Interview: Timothy Orr, “Last to Leave the Field”

2 05 2011

I first met Tim Orr on a tour in 2006. At that time he was a graduate student at Penn State and was on the faculty for that summer’s Mont Alto seminar. The photo below is from that trip and shows Tim and Adams County Historical Society director Wayne Motts. Tim had just opened his eyes after Wayne had placed an original and rare Sharps model 1859 used by Berdan’s Sharpshooters in his hands (you may be able to zoom in and see the two triggers). Tim was – and I believe still is – a Berdan’s Sharpshooters re-enactor. The look on his face when he realized what he held in his grasp was priceless: he had never been so close to one before.

Now Doctor Orr has edited and annotated Last to Leave the Field: The Life and Letters of First Sergeant Ambrose Henry Hayward, 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. I contacted him and he agreed to answer a few questions about the book for Bull Runnings.

Tim Orr (L) and Wayne Motts (R)

BR: Tim, can you tell the readers out there a little bit about yourself? Education, where you have worked, anything else you’ve published.

TO: I’ve been a Civil War nerd since I was eight-years-old. It all started when my father put a book about the Battle of Gettysburg in my lap. I read it and I was hooked. I was mesmerized by the story of our nation’s costliest conflict. My father and I traveled to Gettysburg that year, then to Antietam the year after that. When I was ten, he and I became Civil War re-enactors. We did living history presentations at various schools and national parks, and nowadays—although I don’t dress up in nineteenth-century garb as frequently—I can still be found in my wool regalia from time to time. Although my thirst for Civil War knowledge began when I was a buff, it soon drifted toward public history and academia. In the late 1990s, I attended Gettysburg College and during the summers I stayed on campus and worked as seasonal ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park. Upon graduation, I became a Nittany Lion, joining the graduate program at Penn State University, where I earned my master’s and Ph.D., the latter coming last year in May 2010. Presently, I am an assistant professor of history at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.  Last to Leave the Field is my first book, but I’ve also published a few articles. Four years ago, I wrote an essay on Union soldiers’ anti-Copperhead resolutions. This essay got published in a delightful collection called The View From the Ground (University Press of Kentucky) edited by Aaron Sheehan-Dean. I’ve published two other essays for Gettysburg National Military Park’s scholarly seminar booklet series, and I have two other essays in the pipeline, one on the politics of promotion in the Union army and another on mutinous behavior and oath-taking in the Pennsylvania Reserve Division.

BR: What brought Ambrose Henry Hayward to your attention? Who was he?

TO: The Ambrose Henry Hayward collection is an assemblage of letters written by a twenty-one-year-old needle-maker who enlisted in the 28th Pennsylvania in 1861. Gettysburg College’s Special Collections Archive owns these letters, having purchased them from a rare book dealer back in 1968. I became interested in the collection during my junior year when a friend of mine who worked at the archives informed me that she was processing them. She said she had just read Hayward’s letter about the Battle of Antietam and it interested her. I asked, “He’s in the 28th Pennsylvania, right? Tyndale’s brigade?” I asked this rather offhandedly, mostly as an effort to practice my nerdy order-of-battle knowledge. “Yes,” she replied, “That’s the officer he carried from the field.” Her matter-of-fact comment surprised me. I had known that Lt. Col. Hector Tyndale suffered a wound at Antietam, but I knew nothing about the man who helped to rescue him. My curiosity awakened, I went to Special Collections and examined the letters myself. I discovered that Hayward had, in fact, dragged Tyndale from the field, while having his clothes slashed by Confederate lead, no less! Hayward’s valor saved Tyndale’s life and it seemed to me the public deserved to know his heroic story. But as I delved deeper into his letters, trying to understand more about the life of this young soldier, I became interested in the raw emotion that Hayward felt as he experienced the conflict and then also how he conveyed it to his family. I considered this—his open and honest explanation of the war’s sorrow and violence—to be the true value of his letters. The earliest letter in the collection—which was written by Hayward on April 14, 1861—declared, “They at the South are slave holders. We at the North are their slaves.” This comment intrigued me. Here was a young man, the same age as me, willing to give his life to bring America out of its “dark days,” as he described them. Right then and there, I thought the Civil War community ought to learn the full details of Hayward’s story: his enlistment during the passionate days of 1861; his rise to the rank of first sergeant; his bravery on the fields of Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain, Taylor’s Ridge, and others; and his mortal wounding during the Battle of Pine Knob in June 1864. Although Hayward’s frequent moments of bravery enthralled me—and he participated in more reckless acts than just his rescue of Tyndale—I found it most interesting to analyze Hayward as a person caught in a world torn by violence. His story resonated more when I contextualized it as a tale of a young soldier struggling to hold onto his morals in a world gone mad.

BR: What was the most surprising thing about Hayward, either in what he wrote or what you turned up?

TO: The most interesting thing about Hayward was the way he wrote without censoring his inner-most thoughts. He wrote about the war as he saw it, not how he wanted it to be. This was uncommon for Civil War soldiers. Many of them shielded graphic material from their loved ones by self-censorship. Hayward departed from the customs of Victorian letter-writing. He wrote his letters as his stream of consciousness flowed from his mind to his pen. He made it clear to his parents and siblings that letters were to be written in the context of the moment, not as material presented in the “proper” vernacular. In Hayward’s opinion, he considered each and every thought unique, like a diamond of knowledge, and he believed that hiding his thoughts from his loved ones was akin to depriving them of valuable information about his feelings, even if those feelings were unpleasant. But still, despite his garrulousness, Hayward encountered trouble when he attempted to convey the depths of his emotion during those moments when he faced something altogether new and indescribable: the sorrow he felt at the loss of his friends who died in battle. As his pen and pencil scribbled and he tried to define his anguish, he deliberately cut his introspection short, telling his family that he had to repress these painful memories. This was intriguing. It is an aspect that scholars do not often see: the psychological wounds of war. Even more, I marveled at the occasional explosions of anger that appeared in Hayward’s letters. One of my favorite letters, written by Hayward in March 1863, described his irate feelings about the Copperheads, the northern Peace Democrats. Speaking of Copperhead Clement Vallandigham, Hayward wrote, “we thought we were doing much for the Great Cause, and it seemed that everywhere the work went Bravely on and that before another winter should come upon us Treason would have done its worst and this dreadfull Curse would disappear from our once Happy Country and restore us once more to our Homes and friends. but it seems that the good time has not yet come. they say the War must go on. I say let the war go on untill every traitor[,] Copperheads and all[,] are made to kneel to the Godess of Liberty. the army is yet true and Loyal but they feel as if there was not much chance for their lives with enemys on every side. I beleive that if such men as Vallandingham should come here and talk the way he does in Congress the Soldiers would kill him.” At first, I thought this was mere hyperbole, but the more I considered the importance of Hayward’s language, the more I respected the seriousness of his threat against Congressman Vallandigham and the Copperheads. Politically, Civil War soldiers lived within a frightening world of turmoil. Taking my cue from Hayward’s example, I made certain to use his letters to their fullest extent, to restore the sense of wonder and awe that came from the perspective of men who did not know how the Civil War would end.

BR: What was your research and writing process for this project? Did you make any archive or battlefield trips? And how do you go about writing – how does editing  letters and memoirs differ from a narrative project of your own?

TO: My process in writing the book was simple. First, I transcribed the letters, leaving in the spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. Then, I made editorial changes—as few and as un-intrusively as possible—so that casual readers could read Hayward’s writing without interruption. Third, I annotated the letters, going through each sentence and looking for hidden meanings and vocabulary that required explanation. These explanations came in the form of endnotes. Finally, I broke the letters into chapters that conformed to different epochs of Hayward’s military career, writing up short introductions for each chapter in order to place each grouping of letters into an understandable contextual narrative. It seems like a short process when it gets explained, but it’s not; it took a long time to complete.

Researching for an edited volume of letters was far more difficult than I imagined. In some ways, it was easier than writing a narrative project, in that, with these letters, I had a single focus: to tell the story of Hayward’s Civil War. However, to accomplish that task, I realized that I needed to tap into many different subfields of Civil War history to make sense of his letters. I am a military historian by training, so I found it easy to unravel the military jargon. However, when it came to deciphering matters related to politics, economics, or social issues, I had to extend my sphere of expertise. This required me to read more secondary and primary materials, delving into books and articles outside my comfort zone. For instance, in one of his last letters, Hayward wrote to his brother, “What makes you keep Gold up so high in N.Y.?” To an average reader, this offhand comment appears a mystery. But, to Hayward and his brother, it was an obvious reference to the New York City “gold hoax” of May 1864. So, off I went, for several days immersing myself in New York City newspapers to understand the substance of the gold hoax and then locating and reading the few articles and books that mentioned this unusual event. So, several days’ worth of reading helped me explain one sentence in one letter. On average, I annotated probably five to ten times per letter and the collection consisted of 133 letters. In addition to all the reading, I had to learn new research techniques. For instance, to piece together Hayward’s family history, I had to turn myself into a genealogist. I’d never done any genealogical work before, and while I learned plenty of helpful archival techniques at graduate school, none of them helped me decipher individual family history. In essence, plenty of my research skills had to be learned on the fly. I traveled to battlefields to see where the 28th Pennsylvania fought. I went to the Pennsylvania State Archives to look at regimental files and to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to see related collections dealing with Hayward’s life in Philadelphia. Finally, I went to Chattanooga National Cemetery to see his gravesite. In conclusion, this Civil War letter project involved a wider breadth of knowledge than I initially expected, and honestly, I think it required me to learn a more diverse array topics about the Civil War than I could have achieved within the parameters of any academically-supervised research project.

BR: How has the book been received so far? It’s probably too early for market info, but how was the peer review process: did anyone make particularly valid points?

TO: The book is brand new, so there are no reviews as of yet. I “debuted” the book at Gettysburg College with a talk I delivered to the public, and the folks who came to see it received it well. The peer review process was exceedingly helpful. Reviewers saw things in a way that I did not. For instance, by the time my manuscript went to peer review, I had scrutinized each letter more than fifty times. Even though I understood the exact meaning of each sentence, I couldn’t always “see the forest through the trees,” to use a hackneyed phrase. It takes well-toned advice to get an author to view the subject matter with a different lens. For instance, in 1861, Hayward wrote about how he and his comrades stole fence rails for firewood. I knew what Hayward meant when he said that. I knew my readers would know what he meant. But it was a reviewer who alerted me to the significance of stealing fence rails for firewood. He argued that it showed, by example, the process of confiscation of southern property—the development of “hard war” to use Mark Grimsley’s phrase—on the ground. In the back of my mind, I always knew this, but I needed a push in the right direction to perceive the significance of this and other subtle processes going on. So in this case, I could easily link Hayward’s letters to the work of another historian. That was a good feeling.

BR: What’s next for you?

TO: My next business is to publish my dissertation research. While I was in graduate school, Hayward’s letters were not my top priority; my dissertation was. As it happened, the Hayward project got completed first. Right now, I’m converting my massive manuscript called “Cities at War” into something readers will enjoy. My research examines mobilization in Northern cities. I unveil the complexities that surrounded the raising of troops, the production of materiel, and the maintenance of popular support for the war on the northern urban home front. I argue that Union victory emerged, in part, from Union efforts to strengthen its mobilization processes, but contrary to myth, successful Union mobilization was never a foregone conclusion in the cities. Plagued as they were with dissent and competing visions, northern cities nearly led the North to the path of defeat.

I have some other Civil War-related research projects in the works, but I plan to fill the void left by the completion of Last to Leave the Field with another “single-soldier study,” as it were, although this project will involve a different branch of service and a different war entirely. My wife and I are going to write a biography of a World War II dive bomber pilot named Capt. N. Jack Kleiss, a veteran who fought in the Battle of Midway. Kleiss won the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his services in the Pacific Theater, and his well-placed bombs struck two Japanese aircraft carriers, the Kaga and the Hiryu, helping to send them to the bottom of the ocean. Last to Leave the Field has given me some perspective in recounting the life of a single person wrapped up in the turbulent forces of war, and I’m eager to interview Mr. Kleiss and take down his incredible story. Ultimately, I believe that these “single-soldier” studies are useful exercises in the craft of history. They remind us that war is a human experience. Too often, scholars are concerned only with the impact of history on rights, politics, technology, communities, nations, governments, gender, race, class, institutions, and other large-scale subjects. It’s all well and good that we historians focus on these elements, but I prefer to believe that we cannot forget the importance of history on the life of the individual. If human life has intrinsic value, then historians must strive to piece together the biographies of individuals, even if those individuals did not win everlasting fame. So far as military history goes, I’m eager to do that, to be the voice of the forgotten.

We haven’t heard the last from Tim Orr. I’m confident Last to Leave the Field is just the first in what will be a long list of valuable contributions he’ll make over the course his career.





Interview: Glessner and Lindblade, Ten Roads Publishing

30 03 2011

Jim Glessner and Eric Lindblade are two Gettysburg residents who hope to build a business based on their love of Civil War history. Together they form Ten Roads Publishing, and as you can see in the photo below one of them is a fan of the greatest professional football team known to man. I asked if they could take some time and answer a few questions for you and they graciously complied.

Lindblade (L) and Glessner (R)

BR: Ten Roads is a new company and may be unfamiliar to some of our readers. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

EL: I was born and raised in North Carolina, attended East Carolina University and have been fascinated by the Civil War since my first visit to Gettysburg in 1989 when I was six years old. I had previously worked in politics in North Carolina and in August of 2008 I moved to Gettysburg mainly to focus more on my research and writing.

JG: Originally I’m from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and went to school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After that I worked for Clear Channel Entertainment in Pittsburgh for a number of years before moving with my family to Gettysburg in 2007.  Along with being a co-owner of Ten Roads Publishing, I also manage The American History Store, in terms of titles carried the largest bookstore in Gettysburg.

BR: How did the two of you meet?

EL: To be honest it was pretty random how we met. In December of 2008, I was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping at The American History Store where Jim was working.

JG: It was a pretty slow day so we started talking a bit and ended up talking for around an hour. After that we saw each other around town and soon became good friends.

BR: What made you decide to go into business together?

EL: I never really thought I would ultimately make a career out of publishing and in a way just sort of fell into it.  Before we formed the company, I had been looking for a publisher for my book Fight As Long As Possible: The Battle of Newport Barracks, North Carolina, February 2, 1864, and had not really found any options I felt comfortable with. I first looked into self-publishing, but knew from a marketing standpoint that would cause some difficulty. I remember talking to Jim about it and really from that conversation what became Ten Roads Publishing developed.

JG: When we talked about it more we decided to look into starting a small publishing house to do mostly reprints of out of print titles, along with a few new titles. Once we realized how feasible it was from a financial standpoint we formed Ten Roads in May of 2009. One of the advantages of being at The American History Store was gaining a pretty good feel of the Civil War book market, along with getting to know a wide range of authors who signed at the store. This has certainly been a great asset for us as a company moving forward and many of those authors have released books through us, or will in the future.

EL: I handle the operations side of the company, along with public relations; Jim is in charge of marketing and our distribution in Gettysburg. Often Jim’s contacts lead to new manuscripts coming in to the company. I think our roles in the company play to our strengths and it works very well.

BR: Why Ten Roads?

JG: We wanted a name that would be unique and have some relation to Gettysburg where our company is based.  But at the same time we didn’t want a name that would be too Gettysburg related, like Devil’s DenHigh Water Mark, or Round Tops – we didn’t and don’t intend to publish only Gettysburg titles.  I think Ten Roads reflects our love of the Gettysburg area and pays homage to the history here as well.

EL: During the time we were thinking of names I was looking at a reprint of an 1858 map of Adams County, where Gettysburg is located, and noticed that ten roads intersect in the town. The light bulb just went on so I called Jim and we realized we had found our name. I think it gives us a great brand identification as a company.

BR: What is the mission, or niche, of Ten Roads?

JG: Our company mission from the beginning was to publish quality books in terms of historical scholarship, along with making them affordable and enjoyable for the reader.

EL: In terms of a niche, books that relate to Gettysburg will always be our bread and butter so to speak, but in the past two years we have been very pleased with our efforts to branch out into other aspects of the war.

JG: Gettysburg is certainly big for us and always will be, and many of our current and upcoming titles reflect that. However, we want to be more than just a publisher of Gettysburg related titles and many of our upcoming titles are indicative of that.

BR: What was your first title, and how many do you have now?

JG: Our first title was Gettysburg Glimpses:  True Stories from the Battlefield by Scott Mingus released in August of 2009. After that in October of 2009 we published The Alexander Dobbin House in Gettysburg: A Short History by Dr. Walter Powell.  Following the Dobbin House book, we released The Gettysburg Bicentennial Album by William Frassanito, which was a thrill for us because we both have long been fans of Bill’s work and consider him a good friend. Along with the books we published we also distributed John Hoptak’s Our Boys Did Nobly: Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, Soldiers at the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam. We only had one release in 2010, Eric’s Fight As Long As Possible.

EL:  For most of 2010 we focused primarily on bringing in new manuscripts in addition to expanding market share. In many ways we were setting the stage for 2011, since it is the first of the sesquicentennial years, and we have a very aggressive release schedule lined up. Once all of our spring releases are out we will have 10 titles published by Ten Roads, by the end of 2011 we will have 5 more releases bringing us to 15. Our business model is set up for us to publish around 10 titles a year, and by 2015 to have 55 or so titles as part of Ten Roads Publishing.

BR: How do you assess your success thus far – what have you learned, good and bad?

EL: I think the question has to consider in terms of success at this stage in a start-up company is are you still in business and thriving? We certainly are. We’re right on pace for our goals as a company and I feel we’re set up well for the long-term from a publishing and financial standpoint. I don’t really think in terms of failure, since I don’t think there is an area where as a company we have failed per se, but we have learned quite a bit from the missteps of the past two years, and we are definitely a better company because of them and what we learned. There’s always a learning curve with any new venture; at times it’s been tough, but adversity can either break you or make you stronger and with a sense of pride I can say that it has made us stronger. Today we’re in a great position and expect to be for a long time to come.

JG: I feel we’ve been very successful in attracting authors to our company and building up a strong collection of manuscripts for future release.  But we were both troubled this past year when we heard rumors about the company stemming from the fact that we had just one 2010 release. Our business model guarded against expanding before we were ready, and now we’re in a great position to grow. Perhaps we didn’t communicate our plan as well as we could have, but frankly that was an internal business matter and not exactly for public discussion. I like to paraphrase Mark Twain that “the rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.” We have always had a clear vision of where we wanted to go as a company and what our goals were with it. Overall we are surpassing those goals, but as always there is room for improvement and we work every day to improve and be the best company we can be.

BR: What’s next for Ten Roads?

JG: We are excited for our Spring 2011 releases and feel they will bring a lot to the table. In March we released the first two of those with Human Interest Stories of the Civil War by Scott Mingus, Jr. and Dr. Thomas Mingus, and North Carolina Remembers Gettysburg by Michael Hardy. In April and May we will finish up our Spring releases with A Surgeon’s Tale:  The Civil War Letters of James D. Benton, 111th and 98th New York Infantries, 1862-1865, edited by Christopher Loperfido, The 121st Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg compiled by Ed Max, and Gettysburg’s Most Famous Address: The David Wills House by Dr. Walter Powell.

EL: We will be announcing our Summer 2011 releases in late April and I think they will continue to add to the great line up of books we already have. We will also be reprinting The Alexander Dobbin House in Gettysburg and Our Boys Did Nobly. Beyond the spring and summer releases, we have a number of manuscripts we have received that have a lot of potential and will be welcome additions to a lot of book shelves.

Eric and Jim appear to be men with a plan. In tight economies there’s often more opportunity than folks realize. Here’s hoping that Ten Roads Publishing can survive and continue to thrive.





Interview: Susannah Ural, Editor, “Civil War Citizens”

23 02 2011

University of Southern Mississippi professor Susannah Ural has edited a new collection of essays from NYU Press, Civil War Citizens: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity in America’s Bloodiest Conflict. It consists of 7 pieces on Northern and Southern Germans, Northern and Southern Irish, Jewish Confederates, Native Americans, and Northern African-Americans. I first met Professor Ural on a Penn State Mont Alto seminar a few years back, and she’s been nice enough to take some time to answer a few questions about her new book.

BR: Prof. Ural, can you fill the readers in on your background and what you’re doing these days?

SU: In professional terms, I’m an associate professor of history and senior fellow in the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for the Study of War and Society. I trained in history, especially military history, at Kansas State University, where I earned my M.A. and Ph.D. I’ve been teaching at the university level since 1996 and living in the South since 2000. In personal terms, I grew up all over Pennsylvania, with a little time in North Dakota and bit more in Vermont. I miss crisp New England falls, but I can’t imagine leaving the South now, especially my summers and holidays with my family on the North Carolina coast. 

BR:  What was the genesis of Civil War Citizens?

SU: As I was finishing my monograph, The Harp and the Eagle, which looked at the motivations and experiences of Irish Catholic volunteers in the Union Army, I was speaking with an editor about the fact that there were almost no broad ethnic studies of Civil War soldiers and communities. There’s Ella Lonn’s work on foreigners in the Union and Confederacy, and William Burton wrote a great book called Melting Pot Soldiers, but no one had examined this issue in almost two decades, which is unheard of in Civil War writing, especially when you consider how much our approach to ethnic/immigration history has evolved in the last 20 years. I thought a broad study by experts in their respective fields might offer a lot to the historical community, spark interest in the subject, and highlight areas for future study.

BR: Can you describe the essay and author selection process?

SU: I was already familiar with experts in German-American communities during the Civil War from my M.A. thesis on Peter Osterhaus, a German-born Union officer who rose to corps command. My broad interest in the ethnic/racial experience during the war was long-standing, so I was fairly well aware of those scholars as well. In terms of subject matter, I thought about the largest ethnic groups as well as under-studied communities, and other groups I might want to include to enhance the book’s examination of how American identity is formed. Then I contacted the best individuals working in those areas and, thankfully, they agreed to join the project. My only regret is that the chapter on the Hispanic experience in the war did not quite work out, and I am hoping that our book sparks interest in that area in particular, but in the entire field as well. 

BR: What is the relationship between your own essay and your previous book on Irish Union soldiers?

SU: My chapter is grounded in the theories that originated in my book The Harp and the Eagle, but in this essay I included some new material that did not appear in that book. This collection, though, allowed me to show readers how the northern Irish-American experience compared to the southern Irish-American response to the war, and then to compare these with the experiences of other racial, ethnic, and religious communities across the Union and the Confederacy. I could not take that broad approach with my first book, and relished in the opportunity to do this with Civil War Citizens. 

I love looking at individuals responding to war.  It could be soldiers and why they volunteer, their experiences in combat, the impact of the war on their families, or how conflict impacts their larger communities. When you study people or communities at war, you can gain fascinating insights into how they define themselves; how they prioritize their values. There is no vacillating in times of war. People, just like nations, are forced to reflect on their values and take a stand on certain issues or back down. Then, when you apply these questions to groups that were already struggling with their identity—immigrants or other minority groups; those who fell outside the dominant sections of society—these questions and their answers become even more fascinating.

BR: How has the book been received?

SU: So far so good. We have terrific endorsements from historians Peter Carmichael, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, and Chris Samito, and Catherine Clinton praised it as “pioneering” in her recent review in Civil War Times Illustrated.

BR: Can you describe your research and writing process?

SU: It usually begins with a curious photo or comment or generally accepted truth. Then I start digging to learn more. In the case of Irish Catholic soldiers, it was the accepted fact that they fought to prove their loyalty to America and gain acceptance. That puzzled me when I reflected on their writings, which more often referenced a desire to gain military experience, a solid income, or preserve American Union for future Irishmen. In the case of the Texas Brigade, I wanted to know what made them an elite unit and why wealthy Southerners sometimes held them up as the beau ideal of Confederate soldiers and at other times seemed embarrassed of their rougher habits. I was curious to see if the Texans could offer us a lens into Confederate wartime identity, and they have.

So, my curiosity leads to more and more digging in archives and private collections, reading every published source I can get my hands on, and then a heck of a lot quiet time in a hard chair, writing away and then revising, then more fresh writing, followed by more revising, and a few more research trips. I’m a better writer in the early morning hours while my son’s still asleep, so I tend to get up at 4 am, write for about two hours, get both of us off to school, and then write more at work, especially on the days I don’t teach. The writing, though, is blended with heated debates with friends and colleagues as I try to make sense of the puzzles that always surface.  There are also a wealth of battlefield hikes to test what I’ve written, followed by more heated debates at places like O’Rorke’s in Gettysburg, where you’ll find us peering over maps spread across the table, held down by copies of the Official Records. That’s followed by more writing and rewriting, and then I send the manuscript out to a few friends for an early read, and then off to the editor who sends it out to even more folks to see if they think it’s ready for publication or if it requires additional work. 

BR: What’s next for you?

SU: I’m finishing my book on John Bell Hood’s famous Texas Brigade, called Hood’s Texans. It’s both a traditional unit history and a socio-military study of the men, their families, and the Confederacy at war. T. Harry Williams once said that a unit history, when done well, is a study of democracy at war.  That’s my goal with this book. As I mentioned earlier, I discuss why Southerners described Hood’s Texans, at times, as the beau ideal of their army and Southern manhood: rugged, independent, honor-driven, and brave soldiers. At other times, though, the Texans represented a side of the white South that elites preferred not to discuss: rough, uneducated, ill-disciplined, and brutal. These contradictions within the unit and the larger Confederacy flow throughout my book, highlighting how the men and their families changed, and in other ways remained unchanged, as a result of the war. The final two chapters examine the veterans and their communities in the postwar period as they struggled to adjust to a strange new world of emancipation, occupation, and defeat, and then worked to shape the way in which future generations would remember their service.

The next book is tentatively titled The Southern Way of War. I want to explore why Southerners continue to dominate the enlisted ranks of today’s American military, and come close to dominating the officer population. Is this simply due to the fact that people from rural areas are more likely to serve in the armed forces?  If so, why does Brooklyn rank so high among enlisted personnel? Is it a matter of economic need and the opportunity the military installations so clearly offer across the South? Maybe, but there seems to be something else, too, and I think it’s tied to the white South and their memory of the Civil War, which is then complicated as increasing numbers of African-Americans and women joined the armed forces in the twentieth century. So I’m tinkering with that now, but first I have to finish the Texas Brigade book.  Speaking of which….

Thanks to Prof. Ural for taking the time to update us on her upcoming works, and for providing detail for Civil War Citizens. It looks like we’ll be hearing plenty from her in the near future, and I’m sure plenty of you are looking forward to Hood’s Texans.





Interview: Hirsch & Van Haften, “Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason”

13 12 2010

Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason (Savas Beatie) is probably the most original thesis (or at this point, is it antithesis?) I’ve run across in a long while.  First-time authors and long-time friends David Hirsh (below first) and Dan Van Haften (below second) have been drawing a lot of attention with their study of Lincoln’s consistent use of principles of geometry in the construction of his speeches.  The two-headed Danvid answered a few questions for Bull Runnings.

BR:  Can you tell the readers about yourselves?

DH/DVH:  We met in the first grade.  David is a Des Moines attorney. For more than 10 years he co-authored the technology column for the ABA Journal.  Dan, who lives in suburban Chicago, retired from Alcatel-Lucent in 2007 after 37 years.  His work involved developing and testing telecommunications systems.

BR:   You have unusual backgrounds for Lincoln authors – particularly Dan.   Can you describe the winding road that led you to the wonderful world of Lincoln scholarship?

DH/DVH:  Dan first became interested in Abraham Lincoln in the 1990s when he attended three-day Lincoln seminars in Springfield. In 2006 David was thinking about researching a column for the ABA Journal on how Lincoln would have fared practicing law with today’s technology. Dan joined David and his wife in Springfield. Dan functioned as tour guide; David did research in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. After going through the old Lincoln and Herndon law office, David commented that Abraham Lincoln’s law practice, and small-town midwest law practice in the 1970s appeared to have many similarities. Then we visited the old Springfield train station from which Lincoln departed to Washington as President-elect never to return. David read the plaque outside the station containing Lincoln’s short farewell address. The combination of the touring and the research hooked David on Lincoln. He commented, “I used to think I knew something about Lincoln; I knew nothing.” There is nothing unusual about a lawyer being interested in Lincoln. It is true however that most Lincoln scholars are not lawyers. Added to that is the fact that not much substantive primary source material survives from Lincoln’s law practice. There was no official, court reported, stenographic record back then of opening and closing statements to juries, or of witness examinations. Nor was there recording of appellate oral arguments. Those are the things everyone would love to see. Plus briefs then were truly brief, not what they are today. Modern technology has made more of what survives generally available. That includes many arcane hand-drafted Lincoln legal documents. There are fine source books now like The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases, and Herndon’s Informants, and others. Things fell into place. It turned out that Dan’s math background was an ideal match for David’s legal background. When the book started there was no thought about how useful the math background would be for the book. It was one of many surprises. A secret was ready to be revealed.

BR:  How would you describe your writing and research process?

DH/DVH:  The process of two people jointly writing a book could be a book in itself. It greatly helped that we have known each other since the first grade. Obviously email, Google Books, telephone, Skype, web access to major sources including Basler’s The Collected Works all made it easier. For instance, we each had a print version of major Lincoln resources like Basler. The ability to digitally search was an added and valued tool. We wanted to focus on primary sources.

The initial plan was to focus on Lincoln’s work as a lawyer. We consciously decided that we did not want to deal with Lincoln’s presidential years and his speeches. Countless books had already done that. We felt his Lincoln’s law practice had been under-treated, mainly because of a lack of data. We wanted to use Lincoln’s law practice as a tool to both illuminate it and, by comparison, examine modern legal issues. Little did we realize where this would lead.

Right around the time of the decision not to write about Lincoln’s presidential years and his speeches, Dan stated, “The first thing I want to do is read the complete Lincoln-Douglas debates and the Cooper Union Speech.” To put it mildly, David thought this was a peculiar place to start given the topic limitation that was agreed on. But, not wanting to limit Dan’s creativity, David made no comment. Dan came back with a seven-page handwritten summary of key items from the Lincoln-Douglas debates. One paragraph included a reference which mentioned Euclid. David immediately became excited. David had always believed there was a relationship between math and language, and in his youth had wasted many hours looking for that connection. He instantly felt that this would lead to the connection between math and speech. David asked Dan to find everything in Lincoln literature that discussed or referenced Euclid.

Dan reported that not much was there other than that Lincoln mastered the first six books of Euclid, and his purpose was to learn what it meant to demonstrate.

So David said to Dan , “Do what Lincoln did; study the first six books of Euclid and find out what it means to demonstrate. Then when you find out what demonstrate means, find the best Lincoln example showing it.”

Dan studied Euclid, and then looked at Proclus’ commentary on Euclid. Proclus was a fifth century neo-Platonist philosopher. Dan determined the six elements of a proposition, which Euclid uses to prove his propositions, were used by Lincoln for the structure of the Cooper Union speech. The rest, literally, is history. Suddenly we were propelled into examining Lincoln speeches and his presidential years, in addition to his law practice. It turns out all of this nicely blended into a unified theme. We continued to rely most on primary sources, letting Lincoln speak for himself as much as possible. Then we turned to what his contemporaries said. Once we knew what demonstrate meant, we knew what to look for. Everything fell into place.

BR:  OK, this is probably the most original premise I’ve seen for a Lincoln study in a long time.   Keeping in mind that I scored higher on verbal than math on my SAT, and that the only time I consciously use geometry is when I play pool, can you briefly explain the principles of Euclidean geometry, how we know that Lincoln studied and mastered them, and how you demonstrate that Lincoln consciously used them when composing his speeches?

DH/DVH:  We cover no math in the book more complicated than 2 + 2 = 4. What we do cover is the hidden verbal template that underlies Euclid’s form, which Lincoln uniquely transferred to political argument and speech. This verbal template is profound, but simple.

We know Lincoln studied and mastered Euclidean geometry because he tells us he did in his short 1860 autobiography for John L. Scripps. Furthermore many Lincoln contemporaries who travelled with him on the Circuit comment on Lincoln pulling out Euclid and studying by candlelight. What Lincoln’s colleagues don’t know, and what Lincoln does not say, is specifically what he learned from Euclid. The common assumption, until now, was Lincoln learned Euclid for recreation or to sharpen his mind, kind of like mental calisthenics.

The actual technique is simple, though it takes a little practice to feel comfortable with it.

Here are the names of the six elements of a Euclidean proposition:

  • enunciation
  • exposition
  • specification
  • construction
  • proof
  • conclusion

Now for the definitions. Bear with us. The definitions, when taken together are simple. The terms themselves can be confusing at first because they are unfamiliar in this context. If you want to use this system you should first memorize the names and order of the six elements, then gradually internalize what they are.

For the enunciation, think in terms of: Why are we here. It contains short, indisputable facts. They are part of the given. It also includes a sought. This is a high level statement of the general issue being discussed.

For the exposition, think in terms of: What do we need to know relating to what is given. These are additional facts, generally fairly simple, and indisputable. These facts take what was in the enunciation’s given, and prepare for use in the investigation (in the construction).

For the specification, think: What are we trying to prove. The specification is a more direct restatement of the enunciation’s sought. While the sought is frequently neutrally stated, the specification is a direct statement of the proposition to be proved.

For the construction, think: How do the facts lead to what is sought. The construction adds what is lacking in the given for finding what is sought.

For the proof, think in terms of: How does the admitted truth confirm the proposed inference. The proof draws the proposed inference by reasoning scientifically from the propositions that have been admitted.

For the conclusion, think: What has been proved. The conclusion reverts back to the enunciation confirming what has been proved. The conclusion should be straightforward, forceful, and generally short.

We go into many more aspects of the technique in the book, simplifying and explaining. We also demarcate about 30 Lincoln writings into the six elements of a proposition. Once a Lincoln writing is demarcated, one is literally able to get inside Lincoln’s head. One sees how and why Lincoln makes his word choices.

In between the demarcations are many Lincoln stories showing his character and his characteristics. These give further insight into the man himself which make it easier to feel like one is truly inside his brain. Harvard professor and author John Stauffer characterizes our book as a sophisticated detective story. It is also a how-to manual. Anyone can be an Abraham Lincoln.

To answer your question of how we show Lincoln used this system, the 30 demarcations are the best evidence. The stories and historical comments that surround the demarcations reinforce the conclusion that this was a secret hiding in plain sight. We even construct an “I say” table that further confirms our proposition. You will have to read the book to find out what that is.

BR:  That’s fascinating stuff!  Was Lincoln unique in his use of Euclid’s template?

DH/DVH:  Yes and no. We discovered (for the first time) that Thomas Jefferson used this format for the Declaration of Independence and for his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Jefferson even refers to the religious freedom statute as a proposition. The Declaration proves the proposition that it is our right and duty to throw off allegiance to the British Crown and become free and independent. We demarcate both Declaration and the Statute for Religious Freedom in Chapter 13 of  the book. Like other discoveries in the book, we could not believe we were able to make this discovery so many years after these documents were drafted, and so many years after so many books had been written about them.

Lincoln was an admirer of the Declaration of Independence, and one can speculate that he recognized Jefferson’s use of Euclidean structure in the Declaration. We will never know. Many long regarded the Declaration as Euclidean, for instance the phrase, “all men are created equal”.  We found no reference to the six elements of a proposition in connection with the Declaration. The six elements had essentially been lost in the dust bin of history.

BR:  Are there any speakers (political or otherwise) today who you’ve identified as using this method?

DH/DVH:  Both of the authors have used the technique. The last person prior to that that the authors know used the technique was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln brilliantly transferred the language of geometrical proof to the language of political speech. The technique is usable by anyone. But even if you do not want to learn to speak and write like Lincoln, the technique is invaluable for finding weak spots in others’ arguments. It squeezes out sophistries. And if all you want to do is understand Lincoln better, you can reach a level of Lincoln understanding never before possible.

BR:  Did your research turn up anything that either surprisingly supported or contradicted any notions you held prior to beginning the project?

DH/DVH:  We had no significant prior notions. We followed the evidence wherever it led. It led us to Euclid, which led us to the six elements of a proposition. Only at that point did we set out to prove what Lincoln accomplished. We did not initially intend to cover Lincoln’s presidential years or his speeches. But we needed his speeches to prove our proposition. That led us to Lincoln’s great deception in his Cooper Union Speech, explained in Chapter 3. That again was something we did not anticipate. We could not believe that had gone undiscovered for over 150 years. But it was the six elements that indirectly led us to discover Lincoln’s Cooper Union deception. And in the process of all this, we returned to our original theme. The legal system itself proved to be Euclidean. This is what completes the explanation of how Lincoln was Lincoln.

BR:  How has your book been received so far?   In particular, what has been the reaction of the Lincoln establishment?

DH/DVH:  So far we have received warm embrace. There are flattering adjectives like “groundbreaking”, “astounding”, and “wow moments”. From our standpoint the book was a joy to research and write.

BR:  What’s next for you?

DH/DVH:  The is an endless series of topics to carry forward with the discoveries in Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason. If we find time, we will not run out of topics.

I’m not sure how David and Dan, alone or together, are going to top this effort, but if Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason is any indication, whatever they come up with should be unique.  You can keep up with their doings at www.thestructureofreason.com.





Interview: Gary Ecelbarger, “The Day Dixie Died”

8 12 2010

I first met author Gary Ecelbarger about ten years ago on a tour of the 2nd Bull Run Campaign.  Our senses of humor run along the same lines and we got along well, so we’ve kept in touch off and on, and we booked him for a discussion group tour of the Shenandoah Valley a few years ago.  Gary has a new book out on the Battle of Atlanta, and agreed to talk about it with Bull Runnings.

BR: Gary, can you fill the readers in on your background?

GE: The most important thing to know about me is that I have never played the lottery, never took a vitamin, never purchased bottled water for myself, and have never been convicted of a felony.  That said and out of the way, I should add that I have had a life-long interest in history beginning while growing up in North Tonawanda, NY, 10 miles upriver from Niagara Falls; but I chose science as my academic background, graduating with an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’ve lived in Western NY for 23 years, Wisconsin for 5, and  Northern Virginia for almost 20 years (the math should tally up to 48 years). I’ve been married since 1989 and reside about 20 miles west of Washington D.C. in Annandale, VA with my wife Carolyn (a Georgetown professor) and three teen-aged children. I’ve worked at area hospitals for most of that time, primarily in ICUs, where I’ve taught a little, conducted some research, and primarily have developed nutritional regimens to infuse through IV lines or through tubes into very sick people.

I started writing history in the mid-90s. The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta is my eighth book which includes two co-written works. I have also published about 20 articles.  My book, magazine, and journal topics are primarily focused in the mid 1800s.  I also have researched heavily into the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, the American Revolution and Western exploration.  I have spoken at several symposia and conducted tours within all these arenas of yesteryear– hired by touring companies, Civil War Roundtables, and other historic-minded organizations.

For what it’s worth I used to be as crazy for professional sports as I was for history but when your boyhood idol kills his wife and another, and your team loses four consecutive Super Bowls and hasn’t made major waves in 15 years, that interest gets tempered a bit. But I’m still a Bills fan and have followed the Atlanta Braves since the 70s—from the days of Hank Aaron, Ralph Garr, Phil Niekro, Bob Horner, and Dale Murphy. I like hockey and still consider the Miracle on Ice as the most thrilling event I ever saw although my kids will never appreciate it. Sometimes I miss the Cold War!

I must say I enjoy everything that I do which is really what life is all about, isn’t it?

BR:  What sparked your interest in history in general and the Civil War especially, and what made you decide to publish?

GE:  I remember migrating to history books in my elementary school years. My father also shares this interest which he and I discuss more now than we even did when I was a child. I chose American history courses as all my electives as an undergraduate in Buffalo.

My interest in the Civil War has been with me since childhood but it blossomed to a passion more than 20 years ago during my graduate school years in Wisconsin when I took a trip to visit my then-girlfriend’s (and now my wife’s) brother in a Maryland suburb of D.C.  We stopped at Gettysburg along the way and I became so hooked that I finagled a way for us to visit Manassas, Antietam, and Harper’s Ferry during this vacation. I devoured nearly 50 books about the Civil War in one year after coming back to Madison (I remember slipping in chapters here and there between rat experiments in the lab where I worked).  The basement stacks of the state historical library and archives became my morning routine and also where I started researching topics through their extensive and national newspaper collections. I’d be lying if I said that the Civil War played no role in my decision to take a job in Northern Virginia—within an hour’s drive of so many battlefields—at the end of ’91.

My interest and research experience intensified throughout the 90s.  I live 20 miles from the Library of Congress and National Archives. I took an interest in Kernstown with me from Madison and met the people necessary to conduct me on my first trip onto private property to visit the battlefield. I turned that into my first book topic (“We are in for it!”,: The First Battle of Kernstown), urged on by Bill Miller who had recently organized the Bull Run Civil War Roundtable and as then editor of a Civil War magazine, he oversaw my first publications of book reviews and other small pieces, including an editing credit for a wonderful letter I found on the Battle of Shiloh which was still getting cited nearly 15 years after I had it published.  Bill encouraged me to turn my Kernstown research into a book and also got me in contact with the folks at White Mane (they had published his Camp Curtain book) and they took on my Kernstown project.  Perhaps I eventually would have entered the magazine and book writing world, but Bill Miller is the reason that all started in the mid-90s.

BR:  Can you walk us through the progression from your first book to this one?

GE:  I’m really glad you asked that question (not that I was suggesting that your other questions  were subpar!). If someone sees that between the summer of 2005 and today that I have published 4 books, the first thing that would pop in their heads is that these must be the product of incomplete, haphazard research.  That’s what I would think, so it’s important to see how I took advantage of the cycle of researching, writing, and publishing as book.

I finished the Kernstown manuscript in the early spring of ’96, but it would not be published for nearly 1 ½ years.  In that time I was hired by Kirk Denkler, an editor of the Voices of Civil War Series for Time-Life Books (a lucky break for me). Denkler got word of all the unpublished letters I discovered about the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign and had me write captions and battle descriptions for their Valley volume and for the Fredericksburg book that followed. By the time the Kernstown book was published I had already started writing my biography of a Western explorer and general named Frederick Lander. He commanded Shields’s division until 3 weeks before Kernstown when he unexpectedly died.  The first chapter of my Kernstown book was my lead in to him.  I published that book (Frederick W. Lander: The Great Natural American Soldier) with LSU Press in 2000 and was already working on my Front Royal Winchester book in the year and a half between manuscript submission and the publication of Lander. I wrote 8 chapters of that Valley book and then sat on it for almost 8 years after I was unsuccessful at landing an agent to represent it.

In the meantime, before Lander was published and while I was writing Front Royal/Winchester I became fascinated by “Black Jack” Logan and also the Atlanta campaign.  I researched both topics together and separately for a few years and decided to write a one-volume bio of Logan’s life and career.  I made the conscious decision not to craft this as a Civil War book (completely opposite from my approach to Lander), but rather a fairly equal and representation of his entire life—almost a political bio of a Civil War general. I succeeded in getting representation for this, submitted the manuscript in ’04, and got it published (Black Jack Logan: An Extraordinary Life in Peace and War) by Lyon’s Press in the summer of ’05.  I deliberately kept much of my Atlanta campaign material out of that book knowing it would receive a separate treatment someday.

Now comes some major overlap of several book topics and a big career decision. Late in the autumn of ’03 I made my first of what would be at least half a dozen trips to Springfield, Illinois to research Logan material at the state library and archives and also to plan a Lincoln tour for the Civil War Education Association. I decided to expand my research to include pre-Presidential Lincoln, or as I like to call it LBTB—Lincoln Before the Beard. The tour I designed throughout central Illinois included a heavy focus on events leading to Lincoln’s nomination. Two years later with much more Lincoln research completed by the fall of ’05 and a few months after Logan came out, I realized I should get a trade publisher to take a Lincoln topic with the Lincoln Bicentennial approaching, but my research and writing projects were restricted by my full-time (and then some) clinical job.  With my wife’s blessing I took a shot and did what a writer should never do—I quit my day job at the end of ‘05 after 14 years to try to make a full-time career as a writer, speaker, and tour guide.

I went back to full-time hospital work exactly four years later (insert heavy sigh here). I could blame the sudden turn in the economy, but it would have been tough even in a boom.  I was productive, though. In the winter of ’06 I finished the remaining chapters of the old Front Royal/Winchester book and found an excellent home for it with the University of Oklahoma Press. I also landed an agent for my Lincoln nomination project—Ed Knappman of New England Publishing Associates. He struck a deal with Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press) and I spent the rest of 2006 and the first half of 2007 completing the research and writing that manuscript. Early in ’08 I believe, the good folks at Thomas Dunne suggested to Ed that they would be interested in publishing a Civil War book from me if there was a big battle out there that had yet to be covered. I pounced on that one with the Battle of Atlanta (By this time I had already conducted four of my five trips down there to study what was left of the field and conduct more research) and immediately went to work on it.

This is how I suddenly had three books published on completely unrelated Civil War era topics in the past 30 months. Three Days in the Shenandoah, Stonewall Jackson at Front Royal and Winchester, mostly written between 2000-2002, was published in April of 2008; The Great Comeback: How Abraham Lincoln Beat the Odds to Win the 1860 Republican Nomination, written in 2006-2007, was published five months later in September of 2008; and now The Day Dixie Died, written in 2008-2009 and submitted in October of 2009, has just been released this past Thanksgiving.  And boy am I thankful I got all of that–along with a few articles, several speeches and several history tours, and a fairly extensive book tour—completed before I went back to work again in February of 2010.

BR:  What is your research/writing process?

GE:  I think the previous answer offered a good glimpse into my process.  I can only write in the mornings.  Prior to 2006 I would write from about 4:30 a.m. until I left for work. During my four-year retirement, I began a few hours later but I usually was done before noon.  I would review material I intended to use in my morning’s work the evening before.  I’m not much of a typist and rarely write more than a couple of pages in a stint, but I usually get 5-6 days in per week so I usually could finish writing a book manuscript within 12-15 months from the start date. After Kernstown, my start date for each book usually began the day after I submitted the previous manuscript. That running tradition ended last year after I submitted the Atlanta manuscript. This past year is the first time in 15 years that I have gone more than a month without actively writing a book.

I usually feel comfortable enough to start writing with about 65-75% of the research completed and then fill in the blanks as I acquire new and usable material. My books are outlined in chapter summaries before I write them. This is a requirement for a nonfiction book proposal which is submitted with just one or two sample chapters written. With one exception (the Lincoln book), I rarely begin with chapter one. For example, I wrote the battle chapters first in all three of my battle books and finished with the introductory and concluding material afterwards. Similarly, the first chapter of both of my biographies ended up being the last chapter I wrote. I can never be convincingly charged with having a padded bibliography because I create my bibliographies from my footnotes, so I only reference in the end what I cite within a chapter.  I don’t use index cards or transcribed notes—I am a photocopy animal. I organize my sources as copies of letters, diaries, memoirs, archive material, newspapers, etc. and either group them by subtopic or by chapter where they are intended to be used.  I get familiar with a source by the way it looks as a photocopy—I still remember how photocopied items look many years after I have used them for a book.

If I have a knack about anything as a writer it is the ease at which I can compartmentalize a battle or a life story into distinct chapters. I tend to end my chapters with a little cliffhanger or two to entice the reader to go on to the next one. I don’t hash out disagreements between claims in primary source material in the narrative; instead, I’ll come down on one side or another based on the quality and quantity of the available evidence and then bring out the opposition to my conclusion in the respective footnote. I always try to maintain a strong flow of the story without throwing in speculations and suppositions to break the flow, but make sure to elaborate on “the story behind the story” in the footnotes.

My research techniques have evolved with experience and time. Prior to 2002 or so the Internet was not that helpful to me for history research; now it is a godsend. Except for hiring private researchers to acquire some genealogy and local history work for biographies and researcher extraordinaire Bryce Suderow for archival work for one of my battle books, I usually conduct my own research and gladly accept items generously provided by others. I have already accumulated primary source material for three future projects while on research trips for books that I was writing at the time. I try to keep my book topics finite enough to make research a fruitful and not too expansive effort. For example, I didn’t delve into Army of the Cumberland sources for my Battle of Atlanta book since they were not active in the battle, realizing however, that there may have been opinions or first-hand accounts within that material pertinent to my topic that I missed.  I had to cut off the notion of reading a Union soldier’s Peachtree Creek letter in the hopes he talked about the Atlanta battle two days later because he would not be a participant of that battle and if he said anything, it was likely a hearsay opinion.

I learned to look for things I never had access to or conceived a decade ago.  I purposely spell names wrong in search engines in hopes of – and oftentimes succeeding in – finding a primary account where the soldier misspelled his commander’s name or where he was. For biographies, if I look for an opinion or account of something that occurred, for example, in the first week of January of 1864, I’ve learned to look at handwritten letters also headed with an early January date in 1863, because human tendency was and still is to misdate letters, documents, checks, etc., in a new year with the previous year’s designation for the first week or so. (I wonder how many good Stones River/Murfreesboro accounts are still hidden in letters dated January of 1862 rather than 1863.)  But now I am straying from the topic . . . The most important facet of my research is newspaper letters.  They are a researcher’s dream: they are primary source material, oftentimes contemporary, already transcribed, and not subject to copyright infringement, and although they are technically considered “published,” they have been virtually unseen for nearly 150 years.  I use more than 50 of these in my latest book and placed them under a separate bibliographic heading rather than the misleading “Newspapers Cited.”

BR:  There have been two books on the battles for Atlanta released over the past two years. How does yours differ from those?

GE:  I was aware that both of those books were being written either before or very early into my battle book. From what I heard at the time I was convinced that my subject was much more pinpointed than theirs and when both of those books came out in the summer of ’09 I was relieved to see that they not only don’t repeat my topic, they enhance interest in the period. The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta is primarily a social history about Atlanta during the war and the war’s impact upon its citizenry. War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta includes “The Battle of Atlanta” in the subtitle but is actually referring to “the battles for Atlanta.”  That book deals with the last half of the Atlanta Campaign with a focus on its effect on the city. He has two chapters dedicated to the same topic as my book. I believe it is Mr. Bonds himself who proclaims the need for book-length attention to the individual battles of the campaign. Regardless, I read both books with interest and relief that mine was not a copycat of theirs. I think they are both outstanding books.

BR:   Were there any surprises you uncovered in your research, or anything that conflicted with or confirmed any notions you may have held prior to starting the project?

GE:  I approached this book the same way I did with the other battle books I have written. I tried to rid myself of any preconceived notions from other secondary sources and let the primary source research direct me. This battle was more difficult to interpret compared to the Shenandoah Valley battles I covered. There are powerful voices from the past making claims that are absolutely refuted by the Official Records and other solid primary sources.  For example General Sherman in his memoirs insisted that The Army of the Tennessee fought the battle alone without assistance from their northern neighbor, Schofield’s Army of the Ohio.  Yet, it’s clear that 10,000 members of that army were deployed to do just that.  They were never engaged but they were deployed late in the afternoon.  Also, the notion that XVII Corps troops fought a two-front contest on and near Bald Hill by jumping from one side of the earthworks to the other and back again is literally true, but the impression that this feat was accomplished seemingly after every volley or two may only be true for one harried Iowa regiment at the end of the line. Other corps members fought a two-front battle but not against troops that were attacking consecutively from opposite directions.  Instead, one side seemingly attacked within minutes after their comrades converging from the opposite direction were repulsed. I even found that I could not accept the tradition surrounding the deaths of the highest ranking officers on each side. General McPherson could not have been mortally wounded as late as 2:02 p.m. as a damaged watch found by an orderly suggests, but in my opinion, it had to be at least 20 minutes earlier. I also refute the site of Confederate General William H. T. Walker’s death, and place it at 1:00 p.m. instead of before noon and I also place it about a mile northwest of where his monument currently stands.

I came to realize that to interpret this battle General Hood must not be viewed through the prism of the Tennessee Campaign which followed—two entirely different campaigns run by a general who was not the same commander at Atlanta than he was at Franklin and Nashville. I find much less to fault in Hood’s strategy and tactics at Atlanta than most others who have written about him. The similarities to Hood’s circumstances and Robert E. Lee’s in front of Richmond in the late spring and summer of 1862 are remarkable. Both men necessarily sacrificed 20,000 troops to save their beleaguered city from capture. Lee succeeded and Hood failed in the end, but I don’t credit the obvious difference in talent between Lee and Hood to be the major determinant to those disparate outcomes. I also maintain that the Army of Tennessee divisions and brigades defending Atlanta were clearly more experienced and led by commanders who were at least the equals of those in Lee’s army two years before. In my mind the major difference in the outcome was the confidence, efficiency, experience and skill of the Western soldiers fighting within Sherman’s three armies compared to those in McClellan’s Army of the Potomac in 1862. This is clearly apparent at the Battle of Atlanta. On opposite ends of the Union line troops were routed from their entrenchments and yet the panic was isolated, it did not last, and was replaced by resurgence to claim the lost ground. I can only point to Cedar Creek three months later as an example where you see this on a comparative scale to Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Hood’s battle plan perhaps was too ambitious to pull off but it had a chance to work except that the army he struck again and again refused to leave the field. The fact that Hood was applying a go-for-broke strategy—a “Hail Mary” if you will—indicates that he was considering in forethought what I have concluded in hindsight: that the Battle of Atlanta was the turning point of the campaign.

I also have appreciated from my work on this project that the unit of tactical impact in 1861 and early in 1862 appears to be the regiment, but in 1864 this progresses to the brigade and division. Brigades in 1864 were not only close to the size of regiments in 1861-1862 but also the added two years of experience made the brigade a much more cohesive fighting unit. No better example of this can be seen than by the accomplishment of Brigadier General Daniel Govan’s Arkansas brigade (in Cleburne’s Division), who turned in one of the most spectacular performances in the War. In less than half an hour Govan’s men routed a larger Iowa brigade (a unit that had proven the day before and would prove later this day that it was no pushover)  from its entrenchments—earthworks supported by artillery—killing, wounding and capturing more than 400 Federal soldiers and capturing 8 cannons. This was an awesome performance that should not have gone unnoticed as long as it did.

These were some of the many new “takes” on the battle that I have discovered.

BR:  How was this book different to write compared to your others, particularly those about the 1862 Shenandoah Valley battles?

GE:  This book required more pre-planning than any book I have written before, largely because of the inherent impediments that have bogged down writers and readers of the Atlanta Campaign and other campaigns of the Western theater.  The too-similar names of the opposing armies are a good indicator of these troubles: Army of Tennessee versus the Army of the Tennessee. There are six brigade and division commanders surnamed “Smith” in this battle and very few of the generals, Smith or otherwise, in this contest are household names of the Civil War except to those well versed in the Atlanta campaign. My challenge was to not only create a purely nonfiction battle study for them but to broaden the appeal to Eastern Theater Civil War aficionados and general readers of American history without condescending to the Western Theater buffs. Adding to these challenges is working around large-scale attacks (such as that conducted by General Carter Stevenson’s division) which have almost no documentation in the official records or any other useful primary source document.

Not to be overlooked is the mind-numbing challenge to rookie and veteran readers of recognizing Confederate brigades and divisions identified by a previous, popular commander who no longer leads the unit in this battle. For example, General Granbury no longer leads Granbury’s Brigade in this battle—Brigadier General James A. Smith does. So why should I ever mention Granbury’s name? This source of confusion comes up front and center when we deal with Cheatham’s Division of Tennessee soldiers in Hardee’s Corps. General Cheatham isn’t in charge of these men at the Battle of Atlanta; General George Maney is. Cheatham’s in charge of Hood’s Corps in this battle.  See the problem?  If I write “Cheatham’s men” am I referring to the Tennesseans in Cheatham’s Division or to the soldiers in Hood’s Corps, now commanded by Cheatham?  And I definitely wanted to avoid the cumbersome reminder like: “Cheatham’s Division commanded this day by General Maney.”

After working this out and testing it in bar-stool discussions with folks on my tours I found a way to write this narrative far different from most of the styles I have read in the past, and I included a special “Author’s Note” at the beginning of the book to inform the reader of the pitfalls and what I have done to avoid them.  Long story short, I avoid the official names of both armies in the same sentence or paragraph, I always use the full name of Colonel Smith or General Smith (as well as in the maps), and I refer to a Confederate brigade or division only by its commander on the battlefield followed by a lower case letter to designate the unit (i.e., Maney’s division instead of Cheatham’s Division).

I also deliberately chose to describe my attacks at the regimental level as I have done in the past, but sometimes l kept the description at that of the brigade. I experimented with complete regimental descriptions within all brigades but came to the conclusion that while this tact appeals to many readers of military history, it also unnecessarily jeopardized the comprehension of what I was trying to describe if I found that the regiments were working cohesively within the brigade (refer to my earlier position on Civil War brigades in 1864). My maps also reflect this decision; many of them show regiments while others are depicted at the brigade level. I also need to admit here that the occasional dearth of source material available to describe a portion of the battle, particularly on the Confederate side, prevented me from breaking down a brigade to its components because I did not (and still do not) know exactly how all the regiments were aligned within the brigade. A recent and fair review from Drew Wagenhoffer recognizes this decision and appears to understand the reason for it and accepts it.  I hope other readers agree with his conclusion.

BR:  How has the book been received so far?

GE:  Reviews thus far have been positive. I am confident with what I found, what I wrote, and how I wrote it. The book won’t appeal to some and others may have preferred a different emphasis, but I’m certain that all will read a story that either they had never heard before or one that clarifies a previously muddled interpretation.

BR:   What’s next for you?

GE:  There will be a “next” but I need to adapt to a new timetable since I now leave for work at the same time I used to write before work. I’m not sure if this will be the next book yet, but a natural follow up to The Day Dixie Died is a book about the next battle of the campaign fought between these two “Tennessee” armies: The Battle of Ezra Church.

Hopefully Gary can continue to produce good books despite his return to the workforce and retaking his palce as a productive member of society.  I suspect he will.





Interview: Tonia Smith, Author and Professional ACW Researcher

3 12 2010

Here’s an interview that’s a bit of a departure from the formula:  Tonia “Teej” Smith, while an established author in her own right, is probably most noted as a professional researcher (she’s even helped out Bull Runnings on occasion).  Her name may be familiar to you if you read the acknowledgements sections of a number of Civil War books published in the past 10 years or so.  Teej has also moderated a couple of Civil War email discussion groups and founded the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehust, NC, where I’ll be speaking for the second time this coming May.  Always a great friend, Ms. Smith graciously consented to answer a few questions for Bull Runnings and shed some light on a little known aspect of that there book-writin’ process.

BR:  Can you tell the millions of Bull Runnings readers a little about yourself?
 
TS:  I’m a native Tar Heel, born in Oxford, NC, but, my dad being a career soldier, I was an army brat for the first thirteen years of my life. We did a couple of tours in Germany and were stationed stateside in a number of posts such as Fort Riley, Kansas, Fort Carson, Colorado and my personal favorite, Fort Knox, Kentucky. We came back to North Carolina when I was in the 8th grade and, except for a two year sojourn in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I’ve been here ever since. I now live in the golf capitol of North Carolina, Pinehurst, but I have no interest in chasing the little white ball. In 2001, with the urging and support of some dear friends, I started the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehurst. We began with fourteen members meeting in my sunroom and finished last year with eighty-one paid members in our third meeting place. I still serve on the board of the RBCWRT and am its program director.  Over the years I began doing research for various Civil War authors and eventually began writing articles myself. I also got involved in presenting Civil War programs at local schools and doing roundtable programs based on the articles I’ve written. 
 
BR:  What was it that got you interested in history, and in the Civil War era in particular?
 
TS:  You might say my dad, who was himself a history buff, planted the seed when he took me to my first battlefield, Stones River, and lifted me up so that I could touch a minie ball buried in a witness tree. What I remember most about that trip was the cold and mist (it was January) and the intense silence across the field.  I then took about a thirty-five year hiatus from studying the war when I got involved in school, marriage and raising a family. What brought me back may surprise you. While channel-surfing one Sunday afternoon in the mid 1990s I came across an advertisement for THE MOVIE aka Ted Turner’s Gettysburg. After watching it, I bought the book The Killer Angels, on which the movie was based, and joined an online discussion group that was and still is dedicated to the study of the Gettysburg campaign. I then began building my own library. At first I was all over the place with my studies, trying to learn about individual battles, whole campaigns, and commanders all at the same time. Trying to make up for lost time, you might say, but it didn’t take me long to realize I was going to have to narrow my field of interest if I didn’t want to become overwhelmed. From the very beginning, I was drawn to J.E.B. Stuart and his cavalry. The first biography I bought was Manley Wade Wellman’s Giant In Gray.  However, what attracts me most to the Civil War period are the characters that you might say were created by the war. I don’t mean the central players like R.E. Lee, U.S. Grant, Stonewall Jackson, etc but people such as Confederate nurse Abby House, or the Cape Fear Minutemen, or cousins Orton Williams and Walter Gipson Peter, both also cousins of Mrs. Robert E. Lee who were executed on June 9, 1863, for spying at Franklin, Tennessee. History has all but forgotten these people but, in my opinion, it’s their stories and stories like theirs, that add the richness and color, and in many cases, the humanity to that era. 
 
BR:  How did you get started as a researcher for other authors? 
 
TS:  As realtors like to say “Location, Location, Location…” Seriously, a writer friend of mine knew that I live just over an hour from the libraries at the University of North Carolina and Duke University. One day he asked me if I would be interested in taking a look-see at a couple of collections he knew to be at those two schools. Like so many researchers, I immediately fell in love with “the hunt,” but I also found out that I have a knack for digging out the arcane tidbit. More importantly, I’m pretty good at deciphering the flowery penmanship prevalent in Civil War era letters, diaries and journals. 
 
BR:  Can you mention some names, like who you’ve worked with and any specific books/articles?
 
TS:  Eric Wittenberg and I share a passion for all things cavalry so I’ve worked more with him than anyone else, most particularly, Glory Enough For All: Sheridan’s Second Raid And The Battle of Trevilian Station and The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and The Civil War’s Final Campaign. Monroe’s Crossroads is just thirty miles from my home so you can understand why I would be interested in it. I’ve also done some work for Dave Powell on his Chickamauga project and for Sheridan “Butch” Barringer whose biography of Brig.Gen. Rufus Barringer, commander of the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade is still in the works. Two years ago I assisted Stevan Meserve in researching his footnotes for an annotation of a journal that eventually became the book In The Shadow of the Enemy: The Civil War Journal of Ida Powell Dulany. If I had to choose a favorite it would be having contributed to A Little Short of Boats: The Fights at Ball’s Bluff and Edwards Ferry, October 21-22, 1861, by Jim Morgan, both his original edition and the newly revised edition due out next spring. Those last two projects were a bit of challenge for me since they were not cavalry specific. 
 
BR:  Can you describe your research process?
 
TS:  It varies. Sometimes an author will send me to a list of collections found at a specific repository/archive with the request that I look for a  letter or letters known to be in that collection. Most often though, authors send me a list and an overview of what they hope to find in those collections. In which case, it becomes my job to look for references in those collections that are specific to my author’s needs. That often requires that I read every letter in a collection. And sometimes I do come up empty, but that is not as disappointing as it sounds. Often it simply means that the letter writer wasn’t present at an event or he did not find it important enough to write about it. What does take the wind out one’s sails is coming across the letter that begins, “Brother John should be home by now and no doubt has told you all about the battle of __________ so I will not go into the details again…”   Sigh…

It’s an entirely different process when I’m doing research for myself since I have to start from scratch. Often I can get an idea of where to start to search by looking at bibliographies of other authors who have written on  similar topics but most often it comes down to running names, events and locations through the search engines of various universities and other archival sites. I generally start with the universities closest to home and branch out from there. Even when I find what I think I need in the collections at Duke or Chapel Hill, I will still check other facilities to make sure that all of my bases are covered. Whether I’m working for myself or another author, the process has been greatly simplified by the growing number of research institutions that allow the use of digital cameras. In the same amount of time it used to take me to copy a few letters in a file, I can photograph the entire file and then decide what is truly needed at a later time. Another lesson I’ve learned is if the research facility has a card catalog as well as an online finding aid, use both. Often things in the card catalogs fall through the cracks in the transcription process.  
 
BR:  What are some of the surprises you uncovered in your research?
 
TS:  WOW…that’s actually a tough question as I have seldom completed a research project without finding some surprising tidbit that either confirmed what I originally had thought or told me that I was going in the wrong direction. But one that comes to readily to mind was a letter written by J.E.B. Stuart to Custis Lee, April 9, 1864, that I found at Virginia Historical Society while researching material for an article on Flora Cooke Stuart [wife of J. E. B.]. It was marked “confidential” and with good reason. Most cavalry folks know there was no love lost between Stuart and Wade Hampton but until I saw this letter, I had no idea of the extent to which Stuart was prepared to go to rid himself of the troublesome South Carolinian. Stuart also made a reference to the need for him and Custis to do what they could to keep cavalry chieftain, Fitz Lee, from drinking for the duration of the war. Her husband was barely cold in his grave before Stuart’s chief of staff, H.B. McClellan, wrote to Flora to warn her of the destructive nature of this letter and to suggest that she get the letter from Custis Lee and destroy it. Lee, too, was all for destroying the letter but Mrs. Stuart refused to do so.  The Jonathan Olds’ Flora Cooke Stuart Papers at Virginia Historical Society - which I was fortunate to be allowed to access even before they were cataloged - turned out to be a virtual gold mine of little known facts concerning the Stuart family after Yellow Tavern. 
 
BR:  Can you describe any instances where your research turned up anything that either conflicted with or confirmed your preconceived notions prior to starting a project?
 
TS:  One of the questions I’m most often asked when I do a program on Flora Stuart is whether there was ever reconciliation between the Stuarts and the Cookes. While I knew that Philip St. George Cooke reached out to his daughter when he heard about Jeb’s death, I hadn’t until recently been able to determine if she responded to him. Letters written by Cooke to his nephew, John Esten Cooke, which were recently posted on a website maintained by Cooke family descendants, indicated that she did. There is conclusive proof at Virginia Historical Society that Cooke also reconciled with his son, Brig. Gen. John Rogers Cooke, CSA.

The “smoking gun” that continues to elude me is proof positive that Orton Williams was not a glory hound so consumed with a desire to make a name for himself that he ended up getting himself and his cousin killed at Franklin, Tennessee. However, two years ago, I found a heretofore unpublished letter in the Mary Lee papers at Virginia Historical Society written April 7, 1863 by R.E. Lee to Orton Williams which totally debunked the often told story that Lee considered Williams a drunk and a failure. It also put to rest the notion that Orton’s immediate superiors, too, considered him a failure, and had removed him from command.  Add to that another unpublished letter I found at Duke’s Perkins Library which was written by J.E.B. Stuart at about the same time as the Lee letter to an unnamed colonel serving in the western theatre.  In his letter, Stuart stated he was he was pleased that the colonel was returning to serve in Virginia where “he should have been all along.” Lee, too, expressed a desire to have Williams back in Virginia. Not exactly resounding evidence that Williams and Peter had a legitimate reason to go to Fort Granger dressed in Union uniforms but if previous historians were wrong about the nature and character of Orton Williams which is the basis for their claim that Williams was unstable then in what other areas of the story might they have erred?

BR:  Can you tell us something about your own writing and speaking engagements?
 
TS:  My first article was titled Gentlemen, You Have Played This D____ed Well, published in the September 2005 issue of North and South Magazine. It was the story of the capture and execution of the aforementioned Confederate officers Colonel William Orton Williams and his first cousin, Lieutenant Walter Gibson Peter. Since then I’ve had an article on Confederate nurse Abby House published by America’s Civil War  and one in Civil War Times on the Stuart-Custis Lee letter. My article on Flora Cooke Stuart is still pending with ACW. I’ve done programs on Flora Stuart for the Loudoun County CWRT in Leesburg, Va., and the Eastern Loudoun County CWRT in Sterling Virginia, and for the Stuart-Mosby Historical Society in Richmond this past May. I’ve also spoken on Mrs. Stuart to various roundtables in my home state of North Carolina and will go to Huntsville, Alabama next June to tell her story of life without Jeb to the Tennessee Valley CWRT. In addition to the Stuart programs, I’ve also given presentations on Aunt Abby House, Confederate nurse; the capture and imprisonment of Brig. Gen. Rufus Barringer, the only Confederate general in uniform that Abraham Lincoln met; and the execution of Williams and Peter, most recently at the 2009 Longwood Seminar in Lynchburg, Virginia. 
 
BR:  What’s next for you?  

TS:  I’m very excited about a new research project that I will be starting next week for James Hessler, author of Sickles At Gettysburg. Jim’s next book will concern Lt. Gen. James Longstreet at Gettysburg and I will be going to Perkins Library at Duke and Wilson Library at UNC for him. On May 10, 2011, I will debut a new program based on the capture of Forts Caswell and Johnson on the North Carolina coast in January 1861 by a group of men out of Wilmington, NC who called themselves the Cape Fear Minutemen. Like my other roundtable presentations, this one will be based on an article that I am in the process of writing.

There are quite a few folks who owe Teej a lot, including writers, readers – and bloggers.  I have a couple of tidbits she scrounged up that I’ll be adding to the Resources section here in the future.  If you’re an author with research needs of your own and would like to explore the possibility of working with Teej, she can be reached at teej@nc.rr.com.





Interview: Robert Wynstra, “The Rashness of That Hour”

24 11 2010

A brand new release from Savas Beatie is The Rashness of That Hour: Politics, Gettysburg, and the Downfall of Confedertate Brigadier General Alfred Iverson, by Robert J. Wynstra.  Iverson is best known to us as the leader of an ill-fated advance on July 1, 1863, the results of which were a long line of dead Confederates and the supposedly haunted “pits” in which those men were buried.  Robert sat down – well, I assume he sat down – and pounded out some anwers to questions posed by Bull Runnings.

BR:  This being your first book, many readers may be unfamilar with you.  Who is Robert J. Wynstra?

RW:  My background is both in history and journalism. I recently retired as a senior writer with the News and Public Affairs Office in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and a master’s degree in journalism, all from the University of Illinois. I spent two years as a teaching assistant in the History Department and recently taught as a visiting lecturer in the College of Media.

BR:  What was it that got you interested in history, in the Civil War era, and specifically Alfred Iverson?  He’s been a controversial figure almost to the point of dismissal by many students of the war. 

RW:  My interest in the civil war dates back to my teenage years. I grew up around the time of the Civil War centennial, with all the hoopla that went along with it. I visited Gettysburg during that time and came away with a real interest in that particular battle. One book, in particular, sparked my fascination with the Confederate side of the war. That was Douglas Southall Freeman’s three volume set, Lee’s Lieutenants. At the time, I was really caught up with the stories about Lee, Jackson, and Jeb Stuart fighting against hopeless odds. I’m always a sucker for underdogs, so I was totally hooked. I remember at the time that our local library obtained a set of the Official Records. I thought here’s everything you need to know, all in one place. Little did I know how naive that was.

In reading about Gettysburg, I came across the story of Iverson’s men being slaughtered along Oak Ridge on July 1. My immediate thought was: how could such a thing happen? I really wanted to know more, so I started digging into some of the primary sources. I initially decided to develop a complete roster of the entire brigade at Gettysburg. I obtained a gigantic pile of microfilm from the National Archives and spent months going through the compiled service records for every man in the four regiments. To my surprise, the records contained a number of contemporary letters, which I had no idea of at the time. As I read through them, I realized that there was much more going on behind the scenes than anyone knew. From there, I just continued digging deeper and deeper. Ten years later I’m still digging.

BR:  How do the fruits of your research compare to history’s judgment of Iverson?

RW:  Like many authors, I went into the process with the thought of producing a revisionist history of Iverson. I thought, surely he could not be as bad as everyone in his brigade said. To my surprise, I quickly found out that he was that bad, if not even worse. The surprises came in the details. The usual story is that he rose to his position through the influence of his father, who was a powerful U.S. senator and an ally of Jefferson Davis. He supposedly was widely hated by the men in his former regiment, who resented the fact that he was Georgian commanding a Tar Heel brigade. According to the standard account, he performed well before Gettysburg but for some reason he faltered badly there, possibly because he was drunk. He later redeemed himself at the battle of Sunshine Church in Georgia, where he surrounded and captured General Stoneman and most of the men from his command.

Like so many stories, that account is part true and part wrong. Clearly his father played a prime role in promoting his career. The idea that he performed reasonably well before Gettysburg is far from true. He spent the first year of the war on coastal duty in North Carolina. He certainly did well at Gaines’ Mill in the Seven Days campaign, where he was wounded and cited for gallantry. His regiment, however, broke and ran from the field at both South Mountain and Sharpsburg in the Maryland campaign. His next major fight came at Chancellorsville, where some of his men openly accused him of remaining well behind lines throughout the battle. Dodson Ramseur even heard that Iverson would be tried for cowardice. No trial ever happened, but clearly the dissatisfaction with his performance ran deep. Surprisingly, the men under his command at Sunshine Church also charged that he was nowhere near the front lines at that battle and had little to do with winning the victory. Later in the war, some of his commanders openly complained that he would withdraw along Sherman’s front without putting up any kind of a fight.

The men in his original regiment, the 20th North Carolina, certainly hated him well before Gettysburg. What remains less well-known is that he endured equally bitter disputes with the officers in two of the other regiments in his brigade. The conflicts reached into the highest levels of the state government in North Carolina, including Governor Zeb Vance and both Confederate senators, and served to seriously undermine his position. At least one of those disputes was still well underway even as they marched toward Gettysburg. For me, the most important thing to take away is an appreciation how much the politics behind the scenes affected events on the battlefield.

As bad as Iverson was, some of his opponents in the brigade were hardly better. There were few heroes in this story. Blind ambition—on both sides of the many controversies—often overruled sound judgment. Petty jealousies and personality clashes were more important in shaping events than military glory.

Another surprise was that there is virtually no evidence that he was drunk at Gettysburg, or even at Carlisle days before the battle. In fact, there is no reason to think that he was drunk at any time during the entire war.

BR:  I’m very interested in the research and writing processes of different authors.  How would you describe the way you work?

RW:  For me, everything goes back to using primary sources. I first obtained copies of letters and reminiscences from the well-known collections at places like Chapel Hill and Duke. Sometimes a single line in letter would open up a new line of inquiry. A major help for any researcher is the internet. Exhaustive searches would often uncover references to collections in obscure historical societies or private collections or smaller university repositories. Google books and other internet sources provided instant access to many of the older books and reminiscences. I eventually hired a professional researcher. With his help, I obtained a ton of great letters that were published in contemporary newspapers. Anytime a new book came out, I would turn immediately to the footnotes or endnotes and try to track down any primary sources that were new to me. Another treasure trove was the National Archives. With the help of a professional researcher, I obtained dozens of letters and diaries that had never been used before. In the writing process, I really want to give voice to the individual soldiers. As much as possible, I like to quote them directly.

BR:  What’s next?  I see you’re working on a something on Robert Rodes.

RW:  Yes, my next project is a full-scale treatment of Rodes’ Division in the Gettysburg campaign. I have accumulated a mountain of material on the other brigades in the division that did not fit into the Iverson book. A major emphasis will be on the events during the advance to the north. Although many at the time compared the results to those of Stonewall Jackson’s campaigns, Rodes’ actions at Berryville and Martinsburg in the Shenandoah Valley have been completely overlooked. Also I will be providing a detailed account of the encounters with the people in Pennsylvania as Rodes’ Division moved forward at the front of Lee’s invasion. The amount of supplies that they gathered up is truly staggering. There are lots interesting accounts on this aspect of the campaign. I have unearthed a ton of new information on the rounding up of free blacks and runaway slaves during the advance through Pennsylvania. Also, I hope to present the first detailed account of Albert Jenkins’ cavalry brigade during the time that it operated in coordination with Rodes’ Division. I will continue with the same emphasis on primary sources. Hopefully it will be a good read and provide some new insight.

The Rashness of That Hour has received the endorsement of historian Robert K. Krick.  A must-read for Gettysburg nuts, it includes 10 maps and over 30 photos.  The bibliography includes an impressive list of unpublished manuscript sources.





Interview: Elizabeth Leonard, “Men of Color To Arms!”

22 11 2010

Men of Color To Arms!: Black Soldiers, Indian Wars, and the Quest for Equality is a new release from W. W. Norton by Elizabeth D. Leonard.  This study “restores black soldiers to their place in the arc of American History, from the Civil War and its promise of freedom until the dawn of the twentieth century and the full retrenchment of Jim Crow.”  While the focus is almost entirely on the period following the war, the story of African-American participation in the military if limited only to the Civil War is unsatisfyingly open-ended.  Leonard gives it the Paul Harvey treatment.  Elizabeth recently took time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for Bull Runnings.

BR:  Elizabeth, can you tell  us a little about yourself?
 
EL:  I am a native of New York city, though I have lived in lots of other places, including Japan, the Netherlands, California, and, since 1992, Maine. In addition to teaching at Colby College, where I am the John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History and teach American history, I am the proud mother of two sons, Anthony (16) and Joseph (14).
 
BR:  What was it that got you interested in history, in the Civil War era, and in pursuing history as a career?
 
EL:  Back in the early 1980s, I became very interested in the nation’s political conflicts–including those surrounding the federal government’s policies in Central America. I began to wonder what sort of history lay behind those conflicts, and this question led me to graduate school at the University of California, Riverside (I was living not far from Riverside at the time). In the course of taking classes, I grew particularly interested in American history, and Civil War history in particular, perhaps because I had two great professors who taught about the Civil War era: Roger Ransom and Sterling Stuckey. I also was, for many years, a teaching assistant for a scholar of Great Britain named John Phillips, who was from Georgia and who had deep interest in the Civil War, which he communicated to me.
 
BR:  Your first two efforts (Yankee Women and All the Daring of a Soldier) dealt with women in the Civil War, and your third (Lincoln’s Avengers) expanded to Lincoln’s assassination.  Now you’ve moved on beyond those topics and the Civil War to Black soldiers in the Indian Wars.  Can you discuss that progression and how it led to Men of Color to Arms!?

EL:  Yankee Women is a much revised version of my dissertation, and examines the concrete contributions of women nurses, ladies’ aid activists, and one woman doctor to the Union’s cause, as well as how those women have been remembered. After I wrote Yankee Women, I decided that it would be interesting to look at the experiences and contributions of women during the war who had done things we would consider “less conventional”: as spies, resistance activists, soldiers, army women. It was my research about these women that became All the Daring of the Soldier. While I was writing that book, I became interested in the question of why it was that the federal government often failed to punish southern “she-rebels” very harshly, especially when I learned the story of Mary Surratt, who was executed in July 1865 after being convicted of being one of John Wilkes Booth’s co-conspirators. Originally, I was going to write a book just about her, but as I studied the assassination and its aftermath more closely, I grew interested in the larger story and decided instead to write Lincoln’s Avengers, which deals with Mary Surratt and also with the whole question of how the government handled the assassination in the turbulent context of early Reconstruction. When I finished Lincoln’s Avengers, I wanted to write a full-scale biography of Joseph Holt, who as the judge advocate general of the army was instrumental in the prosecution of the Lincoln assassins. But I also got caught up in a question one of my sons asked me: he wanted to know what the Union army had done after the Civil War, and how its postwar activities were related (if at all) to its earlier role in emancipating the slaves. It is this question that I have tried to answer in Men of Color to Arms!

BR:  What were the surprises you uncovered in your research?  What conflicted with or confirmed any of the notions you held prior to starting it?

EL:  I don’t think I encountered any real surprises in writing this book, but I did have at least one great (if not entirely unanticipated) disappointment, and at least one (if not entirely unanticipated) happy revelation. The disappointment was that I guess I had hoped to be able to uncover evidence of more of the black soldiers having a sense of sympathy for the Native Americans whom they — like white soldiers — were sent West to “pacify.” As it turns out, from what I could see, black soldiers identified first and foremost as U. S. soldiers, and they took their job of “pacification” seriously, without spending much time thinking about the fact that they, too, were people of color whom white Americans had dominated for centuries. As for the “happy revelation” I mentioned: this was the discovery that there were whites connected with the army — Nelson Miles, Guy Henry, Benjamin Grierson, Richard Henry Pratt — who really thought hard about race issues during the latter half of the 19th Century, and tried to figure out ways for America to get beyond the bitter race relations that had been so central to the nation’s experience for so long. These thinkers were not always graceful, nor would they necessarily seem “progressive” or even “egalitarian” to us today, but they were trying, using the tools they had and the context they knew, and I was impressed.

And of course, the tremendous courage and determination of the black men I studied, to make their way to citizenship by doing the nation’s work, was no surprise, but it was nevertheless immensely inspiring.
 
BR:  How has the book been received so far?

EL:  From what I can tell so far, it’s been received very well, though one reviewer said I tried to do too much in the book, and another said my focus was too narrow. As we say here in Maine, “go figgah!”
 
BR:  What is your research/writing process?

EL:  I think that if anyone else observed my research and writing process they would wonder how I ever complete my projects, because from an outsider’s perspective, my process probably would seem chaotic and disorganized. But it isn’t really! It’s just that I am a voracious researcher, and I take tons and tons of notes about all of the materials I examine: archival materials, published and unpublished primary sources, and secondary sources, which I store in computer files that I do not put in any sort of predetermined order. The reason I do this is because I am anxious not to impose, in advance, a set “meaning” on the material I gather: I prefer to dive into the sources and then let them generate meaning for me as I think about them over and over and over, and read my notes over and over and over, sometimes in one sequence, sometimes in another. I also do a lot of writing while I’m still doing research: I write about “chunks” of my research. What do I know about a particular person? What issue is particularly salient in a particular context? etc. I then organize the “chunks” in the way that makes the most sense, as I have become more and more familiar with the material as a whole. This may sound crazy, but it works for me, and it allows me to make connections within and about the material I am working on that I might not otherwise make. Once I start writing the manuscript for real, I just write and write and write, hours every day, day after day, so that I can keep my train of thought running as smoothly as possible along the track. I do a tremendous amount of rewriting too, taking vigorous advantage of the brilliant editors it has been my good fortune over the years to work with. It’s a tiring, but extremely fulfilling process overall!

BR:  What’s next?

EL:  My biography of Joseph Holt (the first ever published) will appear with UNC Press in fall 2011. The title is Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky. And now I’m waiting for my other son to come up with a question for me, so I know where to turn my focus for my next project!

Nothing like putting pressure on the kid!  Holt is a fascinating if somewhat murky figure, and I’m sure many are now looking forward to Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally.  In the meantime, be sure to check out Men of Color To Arms!





Interview: David Powell, “Failure in the Saddle”

26 10 2010

Dave Powell has been an acquaintance of mine for seven or eight years.  I’ve had the pleasure to stomp the ground at Chickamauga, the Shenandoah Valley, and Shiloh with him and have enjoyed his company and expertise immensely.  He’s what I call a “good guy”.  He leads annual battle walks for the Chickamauga Study Group in conjunction with the NPS; hosts Chickamauga Blog; has authored numerous magazine articles on Gettysburg and Chickamauga; has designed award-winning board war games; and recently published The Maps of Chickamauga with Savas Beatie.  His next book, Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign, is set for release on October 30, 2010.  Dave took some time out from his very busy schedule to answer a few questions for Bull Runnings.

BR:  Dave, can you provide a little background for the readers out there?

DP:  I run a courier company in the Chicago area, a family business with 30 or so employees. Outside of work, however, my main interest is military history – all kinds, but with a primary focus on the American Civil War. That interest was reinforced by attending that most Civil War of places, the Virginia Military Institute, from where I graduated with a BA in History in 1983. I have been a re-enactor, have designed more than a dozen boardgames on Civil War Battles, and read extensively on the subject. In addition to our Civil War, I am also interested in European Military history, including the 19th Century, WWI, and WWII. I have published articles in Gettysburg Magazine, North & South, and last year Savas Beatie published my first book, The Maps Of Chickamauga.

BR:  You’re widely regarded as an expert on Chickamauga – what made you decide to make it a focus of your studies?

DP:  I started on a familiar trajectory in civil war studies – the eastern theater, especially Antietam and Gettysburg. In fact, for ten years or so, I attended (and sometimes led) annual tours and battle walks at Gettysburg. I started to write on the subject, but I soon realized that everyone else wanted to study and write about Gettysburg as well. In short, it was a crowded field, and I didn’t have much new to say on it. At the same time, I did a game on Chickamauga and noticed that almost no one was writing or studying that battle.

At first I explored the limited secondary literature on Chickamauga, but since there is so little of it, I soon worked through it all. I began to collect primary source accounts of the battle, especially unpublished material, and was soon making frequent research trips to various archives. Dr. William Glenn Robertson allowed me to tag along on one of his staff rides, and later opened his archival holdings for me; while James Ogden, the Historian at Chickamuaga-Chattanooga National Military Park allowed me equally free access to their holdings.

Within a few years, I had amassed a huge number of items. I had some 2000 different primary source accounts, both published and unpublished, with few of them getting much use. I wanted to put them to use, give them life again, as it were.

BR:  The story of the performances of Forrest and Wheeler during the Chickamauga campaign is the subject of your new book, Failure in the Saddle.  How did this study come about?

DP:  Failure in the Saddle was really the first book I wrote, but not the first to be published. Cavalry historians have in recent years made a mark on the Civil War literary community, and I quickly saw how important the cavalry was to the success or failure of the Chickamauga campaign. As I worked on the maps project, I returned periodically to the cavalry project, adding new material or revising passages as needed. The pause improved the final product and helped me hone my focus on how to tell a difficult story.

BR:  I agree with W. W. Averell (a First Bull Run vet you quote in the book) when he describes the principal roles of cavalry as scouting and screening, and I guess that’s why I’ve never been enamored of the popular image of “raiders” as successful cavalry commanders.  Can you give us a brief explanation of how the failures of the Wizard and the War Child in these critical areas impacted the performance of the AoT in August and September, 1863 and beyond.

DP:  Even during the war, spectacular raids grabbed the headlines and made stars out of successful raiders. This attention turned even the heads of many seasoned cavalrymen, but in reality few raids ever achieved significant results, more often they were more stunt than military strategy. The day-to-day work of scouting and screening, on the other hand, had a direct impact on many of the war’s battles, and cavalry operations should be viewed in that light. We tend to view commanders as either “winners” or “losers” often without understanding how information flow effected the decisions – good and bad – that determined outcomes.

Unfortunately for the Confederacy, and for Braxton Bragg, his two principal cavalry commanders during the Chickamauga Campaign failed to deliver critical information in a timely manner. Quite often, the information they provided was either wrong or fatally out of date. The poor quality of this information flow directly affected the quality of the decisions being made at headquarters. Bragg has received the lions’ share of the criticism, but some of that scrutiny really belongs at the level of his cavalry commanders.

BR:  Given the traditionally positive light in which Forrest in particular has been viewed, what has been the early reaction to Failure in the Saddle?  If it’s too soon to tell, from where do you anticipate incoming fire?  Does Wheeler have similarly rabid supporters of his military record?

DP:  So far, reaction has been positive, though I do expect that I will see complaints, especially from fans of Forrest. I think I strike a balanced view of the man, and I would like to point out that this period of the war saw Forrest rise very quickly from commanding a brigade of partisan raiders to corps command with conventional cavalry missions, something he had little previous experience in. It is not surprising that he or any general might need to gain experience in a new role.

Wheeler, with both conventional training and corps experience under his belt, has less excuse, but he also has fewer partisans – certainly nothing like the cadre of Forrest fans out there. I suspect any comment that comes my way will not be because I take Wheeler to task, though he receives the harshest assessment in Failure in the Saddle.

BR:  Do you see in Failure in the Saddle an opportunity for Chickamauga micro-studies, similar to what we’ve seen over the years with Gettysburg?

DP:  I certainly hope so. Steven Woodworth has just published an essay collection on Chickamauga, available through Southern Illinois Press, (I have a piece on Union Major General Negley) which explores aspects of the battle from several perspectives, and I know of another collection intended for publication in 2012. There’s another guy working on a history and tour of Snodgrass Hill/Horseshoe Ridge. The recent publication of the five-part series in Blue & Gray Magazine by Dr. Robertson only whets our appetite for a more complete study by him, and of course, I have other projects in mind.

BR:  What’s next?

DP:  I am working on four projects, with others waiting in the wings. First, I am doing a Maps of Chattanooga book, the natural follow-on to the first title that explores the October and November battles in similar detail. We hope to include Knoxville in that one, as well. Then, in lesser stages of completion, I want to do a book on Tullahoma, one of New Market (my VMI connection kicking in) and something on Tupelo, in 1864. Tullahoma and Tupelo have an obvious cavalry connection. The Tupelo work is part of a joint project with Eric Wittenberg to examine Nathan Bedford Forrest in more detail – Eric wants to look at Brice’s Crossroads, while I tackle the Tupelo battle a month later.

And of course, I cannot leave Chickamauga alone. I have been working on a very large study of the battle, not a map book but a fully detailed battle narrative. It has been nearly 20 years since a full-length study of the battle was published. I hope to present that work in two volumes, focusing on September 19th and 20th respectively, and use as many primary sources as I can. I have nearly 50% of that project done now, but no contract as of yet nor any projected completion date. It will take some time to finish, which is why I don’t count it as an “active” project listed above. It’s the labor of love I return to when I can.

Failure in the Saddle is set for publication this coming Saturday.  I’m really looking forward to the ensuing debates!





Interview: Joseph Reinhart, “A German Hurrah!”

9 10 2010

Joseph Reinhart has been writing about German-speaking soldiers in the Union army for quite some time now, and is considered an authority in that area.  His new book, A German Hurrah!: Civil War Letters of Friedrich Bertsch and Wilhelm Strangel, 9th Ohio Infantry, from Kent State University Press, was released this year.  Joe is a Facebook friend, and was nice enough to answer a few questions for Bull Runnings.

BR:  Joe, I’m always curious about the backgrounds of Civil War authors and how they wound up doing what they do – it’s usually a winding road.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

JR:  I’m a native Kentuckian and lifelong resident of Louisville. After graduating from Bellarmine College and earning an M.B.A degree from Indiana University, I pursued a career in public accounting. In 1974 I was admitted as a partner in Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). I am now retired.

I have been interested in military history since I was ten years old and a majority of my leisure reading since then has been on that subject. The discovery in 1993 that my great great-grandfather Nicolas Reinhart and his wife’s two brothers, John and Frank Hettinger, had fought in the Union army rekindled my interest in that war, and launched me into researching and writing about it. I belong to and am the web master for the Louisville Civil War Round Table and the Manatee Civil War Round Table in Sarasota, Florida (where my wife and I spend some winter months). I have three married daughters and seven grandchildren in Louisville and enjoy spending time with them.

BR:  I did a little work with Coopers when I was in internal audit with the G. C. Murphy Co. a lifetime ago.  We may know some of the same people.  But back on track – you specialize in German-speaking soldiers and regiments. What got you interested in this area?
 
JR:  I became interested in genealogy after I retired and that is when I discovered my family connections to the Civil War. I began researching both Nicholas Reinhart’s military records and those of his regiment, the 28th Kentucky Infantry. I soon decided to write an article about the Civil War regiments organized in Louisville. When I discovered my great-great uncle Frank Hettinger’s regiment, the 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, contained four companies of German immigrants from Louisville, I decided to write that regiment’s history (A History of the 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry U.S: The Boys Who Feared No Noise). My research on the Germans in the regiment was possible because I had recently completed five college courses in the German language to facilitate my family research. All but one of my foreign-born ancestors was German.

My research uncovered a good number of letters and several diaries of both Germans and Anglo-Americans who fought in the 6th Kentucky— substantially enriching the history. One of my sources was the Louisville Anzeiger (a German American newspaper of the time). It contained a treasure trove of letters from many of Louisville’s German-born soldiers. I realized that if I did not translate these letters and get them published they would forever be lost to history. The University of Tennessee Press published my Two Germans in the Civil War: The Diary of John Daeuble and the Letters of Gottfried Rentschler, 6th Kentucky Infantry in 2004. Kent State University Press published August Willich’s Gallant Dutchmen: Civil War Letters from the 32nd Indiana Infantry in 2006, and A German Hurrah!:Civil War Letters of Friedrich Bertsch and Wilhelm Stängel, 9th Ohio Infantry in July of this year. The latter two works also contain letters discovered in the Cincinnati Volksfreund.

BR:  How did the A German Hurrah project come about?

JR:  While researching in the Cincinnati Volksfreund for letters from soldiers in the 32nd Indiana, I found a large number of letters from an officer in the 9th Ohio. Added to the letters from soldiers in the 9th that I previously found in the Louisville Anzeiger, there was sufficient material for another book revealing views and experiences of German immigrants fighting in the Civil War and first hand accounts of life in a German regiment. I was checking the Volksfreund because the 32nd Indiana contained a company of Germans from Cincinnati. The 32nd Indiana and 9th Ohio each contained over 20 Germans from Louisville, thus the letters from those two regiments found in the Anzeiger.

BR:  What have you learned in the process of editing A German Hurrah and your other books? Any surprises, any challenges to previously held opinions?

JR:  First I want to point out that there is a scarcity of published primary source materials for German American Civil War soldiers. Little more than a dozen books containing different letter collections of Germans exist and unpublished letters are very difficult to find, so it’s not possible to obtain a representative sample from the 200,000 Germans in the Union army.

Two of my three books of translated letters, as well as the letters from the 82nd Illinois that I am currently editing, were written by officers and men in German regiments. These three German regiments, like most of the North’s thirty or so German regiments, were organized by refugees from the German Revolution of 1848 and like-minded persons, who held radical political, social and economic ideas, and strongly supported the abolition of slavery. Many of the organizers and officers were socialists or communists and they were suspicious of or despised organized religions, especially the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore such regiments did not contain a cross-section of America’s Germans. For example, one-third of German immigrants were Roman Catholics and few Catholics served in the 32nd Indiana, 9th Ohio and 82nd Illinois. Only a very small percent of German Americans were radicals or crusaded for the abolition of slavery.  Just 20 percent of native Germans in the Union army served in German regiments, so all but one of my works includes letters from the most liberal/radical Germans. That said, the letters reveal strong German pride along with strong prejudices against Anglo-Americans and other ethnics.

The letter writers believed that they and their fellow Germans were better soldiers and superior culturally and morally to Anglo-Americans and other nationalities. They worked hard to outshine their competition to prove they were better. Yet they freely criticized fellow Germans for a variety of shortcomings and actions. Many also criticized American military and civilian leaders for not pursuing the war with sufficient vigor and being too lenient on enemy civilians. They fought hard. Beer was part of their culture and they mention it frequently in their letters. Most of their historical memories were of Germany and many references were made to German places, literature, and historical figures. They had a strong attachment to their native language and customs and wanted to retain them, while still being good American citizens. The literature I read when I first began investigating Germans in the Civil War professed that fighting for a common cause with Anglo-Americans accelerated their assimilation or Americanization, but the authors provided little or no evidence to back this up.  The anecdotal evidence I have seen indicates that the nativism exhibited against German Americans caused them to draw inward for mutual protection and not jump into the melting pot for many decades.

BR:  Can you describe your writing/research process?

JR:  I search archives for suitable diaries and letters from Germans and once I have a sufficient number I translate them and research the lives of the letter writer[s]. Once the letters are translated I draft the introduction to explain why the letters are worthy of publication and provide highlights of the letters. I also provide biographical information about the correspondence’s authors and pertinent information about America’s mid-nineteenth century German immigrants, their culture, and their differences in religion, political views and so forth. I then begin the editing process including deciding what, if anything, can be left out of the letters due to unimportance or unnecessary repetition. Next I begin working on the chapters. I compose the explanatory matter that precedes each letter, i.e., text designed to help the reader better understand the letters. This could include describing important events that have taken place since the preceding letters, more fully describing a battle referred to in the letter, pointing out errors in the letters, and pointing out changes over time. I type supporting references in red after sentences or paragraphs to facilitate footnote preparation. I also verify what is said about battles and other things in the letters to the extent practicable and disclose any errors or questionable items. My sources include the Official Records, compiled service records, pension files, diaries, letters and journals of other soldiers, secondary works, and various genealogical records. I always have two other persons read and criticize the manuscript before I send it to a prospective publisher. 

BR:  How has this book been received?

JR:  A German Hurrah! has only been out since mid-July, so it’s too early to tell, but I believe persons interested in Germans in the Civil War (there were 200,000 of them in the Union army) and parties interested in the battles and campaigns in which the 9th Ohio participated will be pleased with what they find. Almost half the book focuses on the war in western Virginia in 1861 and only a few books of soldiers’ letters are available about this part of the war.

BR:  What’s next for you?

JR:  I am near completion of the first draft of a manuscript of a collection of letters from the 82nd Illinois Infantry (the 2nd Hecker Regiment). The 82nd fought at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg before being transferred west with the 11th Corps. The letters cover the regiment’s organization in 1862 through the Carolinas’ Campaign in 1865. After this is finished I hope to write the long-deferred article about Louisville’s Union Regiments.

I’m sure students of the Civil War are looking forward to more from Mr. Reinhart on this little explored and fascinating aspect of the times.  I know I am.








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