The Lincoln Pew

30 01 2012

In early June, 2011, I made  a trip to Washington, DC to speak to the Capitol Hill Civil War Roundtable (you can read about it here). It was a logistically challenging trip. I stayed with friends in Arlington on Sunday evening, then headed into the District Monday morning on the Metro. It was a hot day and I intended to do some site seeing, so I took my speachafying clothes and dropped them off with friend Ron Baumgarten. Then it was off on a free form tour. I’ll share some of the photos from that sojourn over the next few days or so.

My first stop was one I think most folks don’t make: the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. This church – albeit in a different building at a different location – was frequented by the Lincoln family while they lived a few blocks away on Pennsylvania Avenue. Inside the new building is a very cool artefact (click the icons for larger images):

  

The Lincoln family pew. I had the whole place to myself. And yes, you can sit in the pew. And yes, you can scoot your butt from one end to the other just to make sure you were in the right spot (though AL often stood during service). Check it out, but be respectful.





MOC Bull Run Artifacts Video

17 07 2011

Hat tip to Kevin Levin for bringing to my attention this video of artifacts from the battle in the collection of the Museum of the Confederacy.





“The” Confederate Flag

13 05 2010

Friend Tom Clemens gives a quick lesson on Confederate flags:

In case you’re wondering, the Confederate flag in use at First Bull Run was the First National.  The Battle Flag didn’t come into existence until after the battle.  It’s possible that some units had Bonnie Blue flags, but I’ve seen no positive evidence of that.

Hat tip to Kevin.

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Own a Piece of History

1 11 2008

Too rich for my blood, but check out this group of items from a member of the 14th Brooklyn, who was in the regiment at the time of First Bull Run.  The belongings of Captain C. H. Morris of Co. K are up for auction by Heritage Auction Galleries – absentee bidding ends November 20.  Hat tip to Paul Taylor at With Sword and Pen.  Anyone with any info on Captain Morris please chime in – I haven’t turned up anything on him yet.

UPDATE – Reader Mike Peters contributes:

Charles H. Morris, 30, “enrolled” in the 14th Brooklyn to serve 3 years on 18 April 1861. Mustered in as 2nd Lt. of Company H on 23 May 1861. Became Captain on 16 July 1861. Was discharged for disability 18 January 1863.  (From the 14th’s regimental history, The History of the Fighting Fourteenth, compiled by Tevis and Marquis.  Anybody know where I can find a digital copy?)

Here’s the detail of Morris’ CDV from the above Heritage Auctions photo:





More on the “New” Wheat Photo

20 10 2008

 

Here’s an update to this post about the “new” ambrotype of Rob Wheat.  The owner of the photo and author of the CWT article, Mike Musick, left the following comment:

Thanks for your interest in the picture, and observations. Love that shot from Seinfeld. The “new” photo, as it appears in the article and blog post, is in reverse. When it’s “flipped,” the similarities in appearance to the known portraits is somewhat increased.

I exchanged a few emails with Mr. Musick and learned that quite a few folks whose names you’d recognize agree to varying degrees that the fellow in the photo is Wheat.  In the interests of full disclosure, a couple names you’d also know aren’t so sure.  The original photo, which is not reversed and does not have a frame, was sent to me last December by a mutual friend, and I’ve been sitting on it since then.  Mr. Musick has graciously granted permission to show it here.





Fire Zouaves: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

20 07 2008

I recently purchased Bleeding Blue and Gray: Civil War Surgery and the Evolution of American Medicine by Ira M. Rutkow (2005).  On page 12:

Poised at the foot of Henry House Hill, the Eleventh New York Infantry, best known as the First Fire Zouaves, may never have seen Johnston’s troops as they gathered at the ridge’s crest, but Johnston’s men could not miss the Yankees.  Advancing up the slope, the 950 or so Northerners were a colorful lot.  Sporting dark blue waistcoats accented in red and gold trim, bright red blouses, flowing crimson bloomers with blue piping and white spats, all capped off by a red fez, these warriors were the height of mid-nineteenth-century military haute couture.

Double Yoi.  I’d tell you what Rutkow’s source for this description is, but he neglected to note it.

I know, I go on and on about the uniform of the 11th NY Fire Zouaves at Bull Run, including herehere, here, and here.  To recap, despite numerous, even eyewitness accounts to the contrary, the regiment’s enlisted men did not wear red pants during the battle.  In fact, at no time were red pants ever a part of their uniform, though officers wore red pants of the chasseur pattern.  But don’t take my word for it:

Above is a photo of the 11th NY Zouave uniform of Private Francis E. Brownell of Company A, on display at Manassas National Battlefield (thanks to Jim Burgess at the park).  Notice the color (gray-blue), the name of Brownell’s New York fire company on his belt, and his red fireman’s jersey.  This is the same uniform Brownell was wearing on May 23rd, 1861, when he accompanied his colonel Elmer Ellsworth into Alexandria’s Marshall House hotel to pull down a secession banner flying from the building and visible through a glass from the White House.  As Ellsworth descended the stairs with the flag he was killed by a shotgun blast fired by the hotel’s proprietor, James Jackson.  Brownell, who was with Ellsworth, quickly shot Jackson in the face, then drove his saber bayonet through his body.

Ellsworth became a dead hero in the North, mourned by his friend Abraham Lincoln.  Jackson received similar posthumous honors in the south.  Brownell became a living celebrity, whose photo, complete with Ellsworth’s blood stained banner, became a popular item.

Brownell left the unit before First Bull Run, accepting a commission in the 11th US Infantry, and in 1877 he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his action at the Marshall House.  You’ll find his death notice here.

As you can read on this great website on the 11th, the regiment’s worn-out, gray-blue Zouave uniforms were grudgingly exchanged for standard union blue jackets and pants before First Manassas.  Many men continued to wear their distinctive red firemen’s shirts, and some may have worn red fezes, though the official uniform headgear as seen with Brownell was a kepi with company insignia and “1Z” for First Zouaves.  I think this image of the regiment fighting alongside the 69th New York Militia probably gives a good idea of what they looked like on the field at First Bull Run.

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Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center

3 02 2008

In June of 2007 I met up with some good friends to spend a few hot days stomping the battlefield of Shiloh.  (I wrote a little bit about it here.)  Our base of operations was in Corinth, MS.  Corinth saw more than its share of action during the war, and is a pretty cool destination for the ACW traveler itself.  The NPS recently opened the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, and it’s one of the spiffiest NPS facilities I’ve seen.

The entrance to the building, situated on the site of Battery Robinett which featured prominently in the battle of October, 1862, is via a winding footpath, along which are strewn bronze replicas of the detritus of battle, like the cartridge box and shell jacket below (click on the thumbnails for larger image):

corinth-cartidge.jpg corinth-jacket.jpg

Just outside the entrance is a sculpture in relief of soldiers on the march.  I was told by the staff at the center – by the way, just about the prettiest staff I’ve seen at an NPS facility – that all of the figures are based on NPS employees at Shiloh.  Below is a shot of the group, and details of the Tim Smith and Stacy Allen based soldiers:

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Inside the Interpretive Center is open, bright and airy.  It features multi-media presentations on Corinth in the Civil War and the battle of Shiloh.  There’s a bookstore, where I purchased a print that I later had framed and now hangs over the fireplace in my family room (I wrote about it here).  And there’s a research library for public use, with a full set of ORs and essential reference sets like the Southern Historical Society Papers and The Union Army.

There’s also a cool display of the colors of the 6th Missouri Infantry (Confederate).  The flag was sewn by the wife of Col. Eugene Erwin, who was wounded at Corinth and killed at Vicksburg in June 1863.  She smuggled the banner and her husband’s uniform jacket out of Vicksburg after the city fell on July 4.  Below are images of the flag, Col. Erwin, and his jacket (I apologize for the poor quality – I’m buying a digital SLR so stuff like this won’t happen anymore):

corinth-6th-mo-colors.jpg corinth-col-eugene-erwin.jpg corinth-erwin-jacket.jpg

One of the most attractive aspects of the center is the water feature courtyard.  The feature consists of a water course, which begins with a waterfall flowing in 13 streams from a block etched with the words of the preamble to the Constitution.  The stream flows through tumbled blocks representing the major engagements of the Civil War, and ends with the reflecting pool of the reunited nation:

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Outside the center are some monuments to and gravesites of Confederates who fell at Battery Robinett.  Prominent among them is an obelisk to Col. William P. Rogers, an Alabamian who led Mississippians in the War with Mexico, signed the Texas Ordinance of Secession and fell at the head of the 2nd Texas Infantry at Corinth.  Included below is the only known photo of Confederate dead in the Western theater.  Col. Rogers has been identified as one of the bearded men in the foreground (here’s a link to his diary and letters):

corinth-rogers-photo.jpg corinth-rogers-monument-1.jpg corinth-rogers-monument-2.jpg

Learn more about the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center here and here.

Another interesting site in Corinth is the train station at the vital crossroads (nice museum inside):  

corinth-train-station

Also nearby is the site of the Corinth Contraband Camp, set up to accommodate the influx of African Americans into the Union occupied town after the issuance of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.  The Contraband Camp started out as a tent city in the fall of 1862, and by mid-1863 took on the characteristics of a small town with a church, hospital, and dwellings.  Many of the adult males enlisted for military service, and the camp residents who remained behind collectively farmed 400 acres with cotton and vegetables.  At its peak, the camp was home to an estimated 6,000 people.  When the army pulled out of Corinth in January 1864, most of the freedmen abandoned the camp to follow.  Here’s the entrance to what remains of the camp:

Taking nothing away from the charm of Savannah, TN (the other base used by Shiloh pilgrims), Corinth has lots to offer the ACW traveler.  Be sure to block out some time to tour the town when you visit Shiloh.

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Unclaimed Honors

9 12 2007

photo-by-charleston-wv-sunday-gazette-mail.jpg

Here’s an interesting story about unclaimed West Virginia Civil War veteran medals.  I wonder if there are any other states out there with similar stock-piles?





The House of Meade

8 11 2007

Reader Pete Peterson commented that he recently drove past the home of George Gordon Meade at 19th & Delancey  in Philadelphia while passing through the city.

I took these photos a few years ago (click on the thumbnail for a full size image): 

meade2.jpg  meade1.jpg meade3.jpg

The house (now an apartment building) was a gift of the city to the Meades. It sits right around the corner from the former Civil War Library and Museum on Pine St (today it’s the Civil War and Underground Railroad Museum), where you can find Meade’s uniform, sword, the stuffed head of his horse, Old Baldy, and this portrait:

meade.jpg

Meade died in this house on November 6, 1872.  Here’s a link to a New York Times article on his funeral procession through the city.  I’ll be in Philly this weekend for the Penn State-Temple game.





History For Sale – If You Have Deep Pockets

17 06 2007

 

All I can say is “WOW!!!”  Check out this auction on ebay.  In addition to lots of ID’d images, there are edged weapons, firearms, artillery, letters, flags (Custer’s guidon), clothing (a complete Zouave uniform) and other artifacts.  I’m not sure who owns this stuff (the seller is Heritage Auction Galleries), but they had to have been gathering it for many, many years, and spent many thousands of dollars.  If anyone knows more about it, let me know.  The auctions (there are actually three, with one being held live in Gettysburg) will be on 7/24-25/2007, so the link may be dead if you read this after that date.

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