More Ohio Hmmmms

31 05 2007

In my last post I mentioned some of the apparent ties between prominent Ohio families and the possibility that these ties may have assisted some family members in attaining positions of authority.  While surfing the net in my typical aimless manner last night, I ran across a curious tidbit of which I was previously unaware.

Irvin McDowell is today a tragic yet comic figure of nearly Shakespearian proportions.  This was even true during his lifetime.  Possibly the saddest reference to McDowell I think I have ever read was written by John Tidball, and can be found on page 378  of his biography.  After the war, Tidball was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco and McDowell was in command of the Department of California.  On April 9, 1866, Tidball wrote to his sister:

I very seldom go to the city [San Francisco], but put in my time somehow by walking around looking at my horses and attending to my garden.  The McDowell’s are well.  They live at Point San Jose – half way between here and town.  I see them occasionally.  Although he tries the best he can, he yet does not appear to succeed better than he did in the east.  Children hoot Bull Run at him.  Citizens laugh at him, all because he strains too hard to be popular, and while he makes one doubtful friend, he creates a dozen enemies.

It’s ironic that Tidball is so empathetic to McDowell’s plight, given that much of McDowell’s legacy has been shaped by a physical description attributed to Tidball and quoted, cited, or plagiarized by just about every writer who has ever described McDowell (see page 203 of the above mentioned bio, and keep in mind that Tidball himself was by all accounts a tall, lean, good lookin’ fella):

He had it is true great physical powers, but his figure was not of a comely order.  He was of medium stature, but his body was long in proportion to his legs.  His head, although well formed and large enough, appeared small and bullet-shaped when attached to his fleshy figure by a neck short and thick.  His countenance, always florid from rugged health, was of the Holland type, and his legs although short were in other respects well proportioned to his general figure.  They were attached to his body by broad, rolling hips that worked up and down when he walked.  Notwithstanding all this seeming clumsiness, he was in the waltz, of which he was extremely fond, light of foot and tripped it off with sylph-like grace.  The virtue of temperance he carried to such an extreme that he eschewed not only the beverages that intoxicate but tea and coffee as well.  Yet while so abstemious as to drinking he set no bounds to his eating, for which his equatorial dimensions gave him great capacity.  He cultivated eating to a fine art, and was not only a gourmand, but a bon vivant, being as highly skilled in the preparation of recherché dishes as a Delmonico chef.  Intimately associated with his total abstemiousness in drinking was his abhorrence of tobacco in every shape and form.

Sorry about the long setup, but it was necessary to show how McDowell was generally regarded during his lifetime because that’s a big part of why I found this late night discovery so surprising.

James Abram Garfield, Ohioan, Republican, Civil War general, some say war department spy, U. S. senator, and 20th POTUS, fathered seven children.  The fifth child was born in 1870 and christened Irvin M. Garfield.  That is, Irvin McDowell Garfield.  Young Irvin attended his father’s alma mater Williams College in Massachusetts and had a long law career in Boston before his death in 1951.  I don’t think they ever served together during the war, so what’s the connection between Garfield and McDowell, other than their native state?  I don’t know yet.  I’ll work on it.  But it had to be some strong tie for a public figure like Garfield to elect to “saddle” his progeny with such a notorious label.

To give you some idea of how this style of “research” is akin to chaos, while finding this out I also learned a little about Garfield’s dark horse nomination as the Republican presidential candidate in 1880.  He had gone to the national convention to support the nomination of fellow Ohioan John (brother of W. T.) Sherman.  Prior to that, Garfield had been chosen to fill a seat in the senate, a seat which was filled by John Sherman after Garfield won the presidential nomination.

And by the way, James Garfield was the son of Eliza Ballou Garfield, which makes him a cousin of the sentimental letter writer Sullivan Ballou, killed at First Bull Run.

As Myron Cope might say, “Yoi and Double Yoi!”

William Tecumseh Sherman

26 05 2007

 William Tecumseh Sherman; born Lancaster, OH 2/8/20; foster son of Senator Thomas Ewing (Sherman’s father, an Ohio supreme court justice, died in 1829); foster brother and brother-in-law of generals Charles, Hugh, and Thomas Ewing; brother of Senator John Sherman;; Uncle of the wife of General Nelson Miles; West Point Class of 1840 (6 of 42); 2nd Lt. 3rd Arty 7/1/40; 1st Lt. 3rd Arty 11/30/41; wounded 1845 – dislocated shoulder while hunting; Bvt. Capt. to date 5/30/48 for gallant and meritorious service in California during the war with Mexico; Capt. Commissary of Subsistence 9/27/50; resigned 9/6/53; moved to San Francisco, CA, 1853; worked in banking (the bank ultimately failed); MG of California Militia 1856; moved to New York, 1857; moved to Leavenworth, KS, 1858, practiced law with 2 brothers-in-law; moved to Pineville, LA, 1859; superintendent of Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy (later LSU), 1859-1861; he resigned in January 1861 when asked to receipt a portion of the arms surrendered at the US Arsenal in Baton Rouge, telling the governor “On no earthly account will I do any act or think any thought hostile” to the United States; moved to St. Louis, MO where for a short time he headed a street car company, the St. Louis Railroad; Col. 13th US Infantry 5/14/61; BGUSV 5/17/61 (n 8/2/61 c 8/5/61); 3rd brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of NE VA., 6/30/61 to 8/17/61; slightly wounded in knee and shoulder at Bull Run, 7/21/61; Sherman’s Brigade, Army of the Potomac, 8/17/61 to 11/9/61; Dept. of the Cumberland, 10/6/61 to 11/9/61 (first as deputy to Robert Anderson – during this period Sherman had problems with the press and his superiors over estimates of enemy strength; Paducah, KY 2/62; Dist. of Cairo, Dept. of the Missouri, 2/14/62 to 7/11/62 (offered to waive seniority to serve under Grant); 5th Div., Dist. of Memphis, Army of the Tennessee, 3/1/62 to 7/11/62; wounded in right hand at Shiloh, 4/6/62; MGUSV 5/1/62 (n 4/17/62 c 5/1/62); 5th Div., Dist. of Memphis, Army of the Tennessee (AotT), 10/26/62 to 11/25/62; Right Wing, 13th Corps, AotT, 11/27/62 to 1/4/63 and 1/12/63 to 10/29/63; 2nd Corps, Army of the Mississippi, 1/4/63 to 1/12/63; BGUSA 7/4/63 (n 12/31/63 c 2/29/64); Dept. of the Tennessee, 10/17/63 to 3/12/64; AotT, 10/24/63 to 3/26/64; received Thanks of Congress on 2/19/64 Chattanooga; Military Div. of the Mississippi, 3/18/64 to 8/6/66; mustered out of volunteers 8/12/64; MGUSA 8/12/64 (c 12/12/64 s 1/13/65); received Thanks of Congress on 1/10/65 for Atlanta and March to the Sea (the only officer to receive the thanks of Congress twice during the war); LtGUSA 7/25/66 (n 7/26/66 c 7/26/66); Military Div. of the Missouri, 8/6/66 to 3/16/69; Military Div. of the Atlantic, 2/12/68 (he did not serve); Bvt. General USA, 2/13/68 (nomination was dropped); General, USA 3/4/69; CIC USA 3/8/69 to 11/1/83; interim U. S. Secretary of War, 9/9/69 to 10/18/69; in 1874 moved his headquarters from Washington, D. C. to St. Louis, MO (returned it to Washington in 1876); established the Command School at Ft. Leavenworth, KS; retired 2/8/84; moved to New York, NY, 1886; authored General Sherman’s Official Account of His Great March through Georgia and the Carolinas, from His Departure from Chattanooga to the Surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston and the Confederate Forces Under His Command (1865), Memoirs of General William T. Sherman, Written by Himself (1875), Home Letters of General Sherman (1909, posthumous), General W. T. Sherman as College President: A Collection of Letters, Documents and Other Material, Chiefly from Private Sources, Relating to the Life and Activities of General William Tecumseh Sherman, to the Early Years of Louisiana State University, and to the Stirring Conditions Existing in the South on the Eve of the Civil War (1912, posthumous), Sherman at War(1992, posthumous), and Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860-1865 (1999, posthumous); coauthored Reports of Inspection Made in the Summer of 1877 by Generals P. H. Sheridan and W. T. Sherman of Country North of the Union Pacific Railroad (1878), The Sherman Letters: Correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891(1894, posthumous), and The William Tecumseh Sherman Family Letters (1967, posthumous); died New York, NY 2/14/91; buried Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. 






a, b, c –; d –


Once More unto the Bloggy Breach

22 05 2007

It appears with this announcement that America’s Civil War magazine will once again broach the topic of Civil War blogging.  Hey, the more the merrier, I say.  I’m looking forward to reading it.

On a like note, I’ve been mulling over a new post that looks at the value of letters, collected letters, and selected letters.  As I’ve been bouncing ideas around, I’ve noticed that the attraction, relative value, and potential for misinterpretation attendant to letters and our new medium are not dissimilar.  I think Dmitri Rotov may have hinted at this in my article in the March, 2007 issue of the same magazine:

He [Rotov] enjoys experimenting with blogging as a medium – in particular with the way it allows essays to be posted in pieces over time, discontinuously, and seeing how different essays interweave over time.

I wrote the article before I dove into blogging.  I can now say that Dmitri hit on what I have found to be one of the truly unique, if misunderstood, aspects of blogging.  And it’s not dissimilar to what is unique and misunderstood about letters and, especially, selected letters.  Individual posts, like individual letters, are more often than not like one episode of 24.  Context is critical.  A blog entry is not a book.  A letter is not a life.

More later, once I get my woefully small brain wrapped around all of this.

Kirkland’s Grave – Oh, The Things We Find

18 05 2007

 Well, I’m off to throw away my money at Pimlico.  Hopefully it won’t take an eventual mortal injury in the feature for me to break even this year.  I’ll have my computer with me while in Baltimore, but I doubt I’ll have internet access.  So this post will have to do until I get back on Sunday.  Sometimes we manage to hit a Civil War site on the ride home – last year it was Monocacy.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

I mentioned here that I learned an interesting tidbit on William Whedbee Kirkland as a result of my visit to Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown a couple of weeks ago.  Since I have a little time before we hit the road, let’s get it out of the way.

kirkland.jpgAt First Bull Run, Kirkland was colonel of the 11th North Carolina Volunteers, part of Brig. Gen. Milledge Luke Bonham’s First Brigade of Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac.  This apparently simple information can be confusing, however, since the 11th NCV was later designated the 21st North Carolina Infantry.  There was a later change to the regimental numbers, as well as designations of units as either North Carolina Infantry (NCI) or North Carolina State Troops (NCST).  It’s confusing, but when this change happened the NCV units had to change numbers, and those who became NCI regiments did so by changing their NCV number by ten.  It’s similar to the difference between the numbering of Pennsylvania Reserve regiments and their eventual PA volunteer infantry numbers, which you can figure out by adding 29 to the reserve number.  Confused?  If so, you get it.  But if you’re looking for the biography of the 11th NCV in a reference work like Crute, you need to look at the 21st NCI.  That’s the case for all of the NCV units, 2nd through 15th, except for the 10th, which became the 1st Artillery. 

Now, give me a minute while I try to remember my name.

You may recall from this earlier article that the later General Kirkland was related by marriage to Lieut. Gen. William J. Hardee.  When Hardee’s son Willie was gravely wounded in the late war Battle of Bentonville, his father sent him to the Kirkland home in Hillsboro (now Hillsborough), outside of Raleigh, NC.  It was there that young Willie died, and it was in the Kirkland family’s churchyard that he was buried.

After the war, Kirkland worked in the “commission business” in Savannah, GA.  The famous Broadway star Odette Taylor was actually Kirkland’s daughter, Bess, and her father eventually moved to New York where he worked for the post office.  Bess married another actor, one R. D. MacLean, whose real name was R. D. Shepherd of, you guessed it, Shepherdstown, WV (the acting couple are buried in Hollywood, CA, where they had moved to work in silent motion pictures – she was in Buster Keaton’s The Saphead; he seems to have had more success).  Apparently the elder Kirklands were tight with the Shepherd family, as Mrs. Kirkland – who at some point divorced her husband – is buried in the Shepherd family lot.  Kirkland, due to infirmity, spent the last 15 years of his life in the Washington, DC Soldier’s Home.  When he died in 1915, he was buried in Elmwood in what Ezra Warner wrote in 1959 was an unmarked grave. 

To bring the thread full circle, Kirkland’s burial plot (below, from my trip) was restored in 1990 by the citizens of his hometown, Hillsborough, NC.  I am not sure if the Susan Wilkins next to whom Kirkland is buried is his ex-wife, second wife, or what.  But check out the inscription on Kirkland’s stone.  Click on the thumbnail for larger pictures. 


I’m getting a sort of rakish vibe from Kirkland.  I don’t know if it’s because of his divorce, his post-war wanderings, his Hollywood connections, or the fact that after he dropped out of West Point he became a U. S. Marine.  Regardless, I’m looking forward to doing his bio sketch.  Any info you readers can provide is appreciated. 

Cross-Media Pollination

14 05 2007


I’m back on the news stand, again in the pages of America’s Civil War magazine.  You can find my news article titled Are These Mannings Kin? on page 17 of the July issue.  It’s a very short piece that summarizes the blog posts I made here and here.  Of course, after the magazine went to press I received a note from Bruce Allardice informing me that there are apparently no close ties between the two Mannings (see here), and Bruce was kind enough to send a letter to the editor that will appear in a future issue of the magazine.  Hopefully from all of this we may at least learn the origin of the Super Bowl MVP’s unusual first name.  It still seems like one heck of a coincidence, if that’s all it is.

Just a note: the small windows that appear when you move your cursor over a link or photo on this page can be opened by simply left clicking.  Photos will appear in their own windows at their full size.

The Dog Ate My Homework

11 05 2007

OK folks – I’ve got a full plate of work, teaching, and class-taking over the next week or so.  Since bills must be paid, I’m afraid I won’t be able to post much.  Here are some things I’m thinking about thinking about for the blog:

I’m planning a new page featuring links to on-line, downloadable books associated with First Bull Run.  I think it will be pretty useful to anyone trying to learn more about the campaign.

I’m finding out some weird stuff about the William Fitzhugh Lee buried in Shepherdstown’s Elmwood Cemetery

On a related note, I’ve found some interesting threads to and from William Kirkland, planted in the same grass as the aforementioned Lee.

I’ll post some thoughts on letters, collected letters, and selected letters prompted by the purchase of a new book that analyzes private letters of R. E. Lee.

I promise to try to get to that review of the Heintzelman biography.  Sometimes I really don’t like to write reviews, and this is one of those times.

I am on the news stand once again, and I’ll let you know what to look for.

Red pants.  I’m always thinking about those damned red pants.

Check back often, at least once each and every day; I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be able to post.  The important thing is for you all to keep my hits (and my ego) up!

Back from the Paper Chase

8 05 2007

I have lots of stuff to write about, but not much time in which to write it.

I got back from my Road Trip on Sunday.  All-in-all it was a productive trip.  At Carlisle I turned up a nifty letter written by a member of Co. C, 205th PA – my great-grandfather’s unit – outside Petersburg in which preferences for the upcoming presidential election were forcefully expressed.  I also copied some material on First Bull Run that should prove useful in my examination of the mystery of the red-trousered Zouaves seen everywhere on the field.  And I found some info on the 16th CT at Antietam that should prove useful.  Thanks again to Art Bergeron and the rest of the staff there for all their help.

I stayed in Gettysburg on Thursday night, and killed some time at the Gateway Gettysburg Theater watching 300.  I dug it, but was taken aback by the sudden emergence of Scottish accents midway through.  Not a chick flick, that’s for sure.  The next day I did some book shopping in town and cruised the visitor’s center (VC) and battlefield quickly before turning south down 15 for Sharpsburg.

At the archives of Antietam National Battlefield on Friday I found a lot of primary source material (letters) on the 16th CT, and some other information on the regiment provided to the park by descendants over the years.  The most pleasant and serendipitous find was the resting place of my great-grandfather.  He apparently resides in the Vicksburg Cemetery in or near Roaring Springs, Blair County, PA.  Ted Alexander just happened to have a copy of a book on Blair County soldiers in the park’s library.  Thanks, Ted, for your assistance.

hkd-grave.jpgI dined at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown with my father-in-law and his brothers on Friday night.  Later we crowded around my laptop to watch the Historical Films documentary “Antietam”, the film shown in the VC.  On Saturday we toured the Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown, resting place of Confederate staff officer and author of Stonewall Rode with Me Henry Kyd (rhymes with “tied”) Douglas, as well as Bull Run participants Lt. Col. William Fitzhugh Lee of the 33rd VA (mortally wounded at BR1) and William W. Kirkland of the 11th (later 21st) NC.

We also spent some time at the Rumsey memorial in Shepherdstown.  If you have been laboring under the impression that Robert Fulton invented the steamboat, go here for a history lesson.  We managed to avoid the May Day parade in town, which based on the attire of the marchers, the name of the parade, and the presence of a college campus appears to be some mix of “the arts”, Bolshevism and bon ton roulette.

mannie.jpgWe crossed the Potomac and stopped by the Douglas home Ferry Hill Place; the Grove Farm (site of the famous Brady photos of Lincoln and McClellan); Lee’s HQ; the National Cemetery; and the Pry House and its medical display (my father-in-law’s brother is a retired physician).  The next stop was the VC at Antietam.  I ran into ranger and fellow blogger John Hoptak and had a nice but too short talk with him.  Next up was ranger Mannie Gentile (left) who gave an engaging overview of the campaign to a full room on the observation deck.  Rather than go into the details of why Harper’s Ferry was in Virginia in 1862 but is in West Virginia today, Mannie simply explained that it was done “to confuse middle schoolers”.  Works for me.  We didn’t join Mannie’s group on the field, but I did get a chance to speak with him for a few minutes in the VC on Sunday.

I gave the relatives a quick tour of the field, going first to the seldom visited Upper Bridge, where most of the Federal Army that fought on the 17th crossed the Antietam.  We took a brief detour to Starke Ave. to view the stone outcropping behind which members of the Iron Brigade took position.  Then it was south to the Juan Valdez McKinley coffee monument and the Georgian’s Overlook.

view.jpgAfter that we drove to Turner’s Gap via Boonesboro – sadly, I had no time to stop at the creamery.  Rather than walk the mile down the Appalachian Trail from the Mountain House (Stone Mountain Inn) to Fox’s Gap, the group opted to trek up to the Washington Monument.  The view from atop the monument was well worth the climb.  After that it was back to our hotel (the Clarion) in Shepherdstown for dinner and an early night.


16th-ct.jpgOn Sunday I had just enough time to drive back to the VC, where I spoke briefly with Mannie.  I needed to at least visit the United Church of Christ in town to see the former site of the 16th CT stained glass window – now marked by white plywood.  Service was letting out and I had some time to chat with Reverend Catlett.  It turns out he has some documentation on the window in question.  Unfortunately we were both pressed for time, so we left each other with the understanding that I would be returning to look at the material.

It was a busy four days.  I regret that I did not have enough time at Carlisle, the ANB archives or the UCC in Sharpsburg.  I’ve learned a lot about scheduling for this type of trip, and hopefully will make fewer mistakes along those lines in the future.

Antietam Seminar

3 05 2007

Tomorrow I’m going to meet with Ted Alexander at Antietam National Battlefield Park.  Ted is the Chief Historian at the park, and has been kind enough to offer me some assistance in pulling info on the 16th CT.  I found some stuff today at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (still referred to by some as USAMHI) at Carlisle, with help from Art Bergeron and the fine staff there (I’m sorry but I didn’t get everyone’s name – some journalist I am).  I also found a letter written by a soldier in my great-grandfather’s Company C of the 205th PA, and will post on that later.  It perhaps explains what many folks consider to be one of my character flaws. 

ccwscover.jpgTed has informed me that he has put together a really fine Antietam seminar for Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours.  You can find out more here.  Over to the left is the cover of their pamplet; click on the thumbnail for a larger image.  This looks like a real kick-butt program, featuring about 40 speakers/tour leaders over five days.  I know a few of these guys, some better than others, and some only by reputation, but they’re all top-notch.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it – I know that won’t affect anyone’s decision to go.

I highly recommend seminars.  For eight consecutive years I attended the Civil War Conference conducted by Penn State at its Gettysburg vicinity Mont Alto campus (see this post).  While the tours and the lectures were all great, the most valuable part of the experience for me was the access to the faculty.  These types of multi-day seminars are around-the-clock learning experiences.  The faculty is usually trapped; they can run, but they can’t hide.  And if they try, you can usually lure them out with a nice (or not-so-nice) bottle of scotch!  If Ted’s program offers anywhere near the access I enjoyed at Mont Alto, you can’t go wrong by attending.  I’ll try and get some more details tomorrow.

Road Trip!

2 05 2007



I’ll be heading out on a combination research trip/battlefield stomp early tomorrow morning.  My first stop is the U. S. Army Military History Institute at Carlisle, PA.  While there I will be checking out what they have on the 16th CT, the 205th PA, and an officer who played a prominent role at the First Battle of Bull Run.  The first and last of these are for proposed magazine articles; the 205th PA was my great-grandfather’s unit.

After spending the day in Carlisle I’ll stay the night in Gettysburg, then head south to Antietam Friday morning.  I’m supposed to hook up with Ted Alexander to go through some of the park’s holdings relative to the 16th CT, and if I have time I’ll check out the Christ Reformed Church in Sharpsburg, which is where the memorial stained glass window to the regiment was located until recently removed for renovation.  (Mr. Alexander called as I was typing this, and I’m to meet him at 4:30 on Friday, so I’ll have plenty of time Friday to take care of any other business).  Then, I’ll meet up with my father-in-law and his brothers for dinner in Shepherdstown. 

On Saturday I’ll go over to the park with the in-laws.  At 1:30 PM NPS ranger, e-quaintance, and fellow blogger Mannie Gentile is supposed to be leading a tour of an undisclosed portion of the battlefield.  We’ll tag along and I’ll make loud and obnoxious comments about anything with which I disagree, because I know Mannie will be discreet and not publicly out me.  Yeah, right… 

Anyway, I’ll be away for the weekend.  I may be able to find some time to post in the evenings, but I can’t promise anything.  I have a new laptop, with Vista, so I’m not sure how things will turn out (I’m posting this using the new computer).  One way or another I’ll let you know how my trip turns out.