Death by Misadventure

27 12 2007


brian-jones.jpgDavid Woodbury has put up a nifty post on the accidental (and sometimes not-so-accidental) post-war deaths of a number of Civil War commanders.  Check it out here. 

I love this stuff.

Brian Jones gravesite from

Christmas Bells

21 12 2007

clongfellow1.jpg clongfellow2.jpg clongfellow3.jpg clongfellow4.jpg

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this poem in 1864 while helping his son Charles recover from a serious wound received in Virginia.  Born in 1844, “Charley” (above as a child, a soldier, a samurai!, and a sailor) was a risk taker from the get-go, and lost his thumb in an accident with a gun at age 11.  As a Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, he was wounded at New Hope Church during the Mine Run Campaign on November 27, 1863 – shot through the shoulders, with the bullet “nicking” his spine.  Earlier, he had survived a bout with malaria.  After the war Charley lived a full life as a globe-trotting bachelor, but he died young in Boston in 1893.  Read more about him at the NPS Longfellow National Historic Site webpage, and at this SUV site.

Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play

    And wild and sweet

    The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

    Had rolled along

    The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day,

    A voice, a chime,

    A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

    And with the sound

    The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

    And made forlorn

    The households born

Of Peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

    “For hate is strong,

    And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;

God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!

    The Wrong shall fail,

    The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men!

The poem has also been adapted and recorded by various artists as a carol, my particular favorite being Frank Sinatra.  But here’s one from The Carpenters (removed) so here’s a different one from a group called Casting Crowns:

 And here is a link to some readings of the poem.

Take these as my poor gift to you.  Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!


The Sherman’s Battery Posts

21 12 2007


I’ve been getting a lot of hits on various posts in a series dealing with the confusion arising from the nickname of Battery E, 3rd US Artillery – Sherman’s Battery.  I thought it might be helpful to set up a little page so anyone looking can find them all.  Here are the links:

Sherman’s Battery, and Sherman’s Battery, Too, but not Really

This Battery Just Keeps Going, and Going, and Going…

Sherman’s Battery Had Some Kinda Juice!

Be sure to read the comments, and enjoy!

1862 Photos of Bull Run (Library of Congress)

15 12 2007

Along Bull Run Near Sudley Church (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.:  LC-DIG-cwpb-00960

Blackburn’s Ford – Ruins of RR Bridge (Unknown) 


LOC Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-01546

Catharpin Run, Sudley Church, Remains of Sudley Sulphur Spring House (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduciton No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-00956

Cavalry at Sudley Ford (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.:  LC-DIG-cwpb-00954

Cub Run Bridge (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.:  LC-DIG-cwpb-00945

Henry House Ruins (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.:  LC-DIG-cwpb-00972

Robinson House (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.:  LC-DIG-cwpb-00967

Soldiers’ Graves (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-00974 

Stone Bridge Ruins (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-00950  

Stone Brige Ruins #2 (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.:  LC-DIG-cwpb-00952

Stone Church at Centreville (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-00937

Stone House (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-00965

Sudley Church (George Barnard)


LOC Reproduciton No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-00959

Thornton’s (Thornberry’s) House on Route to Sudley Ford (George Barnard) 


LOC Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-00963

View of Field (Unknown) – See aslo this post


LOC Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-01314

View of Field #2


LOC Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-cwpb-01527

Bull Run Blog

13 12 2007


I ran across this blog via a Google alert for Bull Run.  This is not an endorsement, as I’ve never even stayed at the Comfort Suites Manassas.  Right now the blog is in the midst of a serialization of a John Hennessy history of the 2nd Battle of Bull Run, and in the archives you can find a similar serialization of the first battle by Glenn Robertson.

This blog appears to be the work of the hotel’s sales director, Megan Stewart.

Unclaimed Honors

9 12 2007


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?

He Hates Thursday! Stay Away from Thursday!

6 12 2007

I’m testing a theory here.  Civil War Interactive reviews Civil War blogs every Wednesday and Thursday; you can read them by clicking here. There are quite a few Civil War blogs out there, and this is a big and pretty much thankless job, so I don’t want to sound critical.  The last few reviews of my site seem to imply that I’m hardly posting at all, and I admit that there have been other things going on during the past month that have slowed me down.  But I posted three articles in November that were not mentioned at all in the reviews, and two of them are among my favorites (the three posts are The House of Meade, Governor Sprague’s Arm Candy and Why McDowell?).

My site is reviewed every Wednesday (with the exception of holiday weeks).  The old auditor in me looked for a likely explanation as to why these three posts were overlooked.  The first (and admittedly most likely) possibility is that the articles suck and aren’t noteworthy.  Barring that, the only other thing I can see is that they were each posted on a Thursday.  So, I’m putting up this post on Thursday to see if it gets mentioned in the review.  If it doesn’t, maybe I’m onto something.  Maybe the reviewer hates Thursdays.

Now, aren’t you glad you read this?  That’s 60 seconds of your life you can never get back (not counting the video, because that clip could never be considered a waste of time, regardless of how many times you’ve seen it).  But if you also missed these three Thursday posts, click the links above and I’ll try to make it up to you!

You know, there are a lot of similarities between the blogosphere and a phone book.  Writing a blog is similarly important as being listed in the phone book, one needs to be similarly qualified for either, and we should be similarly excited about our presence in either.

Oh Fudge

3 12 2007



Only I didn’t say fudge.  I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the F-dash-dash-dash word!*

As I described here, while in Wilmington, DE over the Thanksgiving holiday I took a walk through the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery.  While I did manage to find a Civil War section with a damaged canon monument, I didn’t come across anything particularly noteworthy.  But if I had, as I always intend but seldom do, brought along one of the many books I buy for just such things-to-do-in-a-strange-town occasions, I would have been able to see something significant.  And now I’m thinking when am I ever going to get this chance again?

Thomas Alfred Smyth was a brigadier general from Delaware.  A former colonel of the 1st DE Volunteer Infantry, in April, 1865 he was serving at the head of a division in the 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac as it pursued Robert E. Lee’s army to its eventual surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.  While riding on his skirmish line during the fighting at Farmville on April 7, Smyth was mortally wounded, shot in the mouth by a rebel sharpshooter.  He lingered for two days.  On April 9, the day Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, Smyth became the last Federal general officer to die in the Civil War.

Now,Wilmington and Brandywine is a big cemetery, and it’s certainly too much to expect to serendipitously stumble across one grave among thousands.  But if I had just brought along Lest We Forget: The Gravesites of Union Civil War Generals Buried in the United States (I wrote about the book here) I would have found in the Delaware section, on page 35, that Thomas Alfred Smyth is buried there, next to the cemetery road.  In addition, there are two Union brevet BGs, various political figures, and two ACW MOH winners who rest there.

Some of you might say “You didn’t really miss anything but a carved stone”; to me visiting a gravesite is more than that.  Not that I think anything abides there.  But all that’s physically left of a person resides there.  And one day long ago his or her loved ones stood on that very spot.  Let me be clear that it’s not a spiritual thing for me.  It’s the same as visiting a battlefield.  Beside the practical understanding gained by visiting the sites of events about which we’ve only read – and believe me, there is nothing as valuable as walking the ground to understand what happened on and because of it – there’s just something about being where it happened, whatever it was. It’s what separates the history lover from normal, sane people who can go about their lives without being driven to distraction by such thoughts, such…compulsions?  I can’t explain it any better than that – yet.

Here’s a picture of General Smyth’s grave (he received a posthumous brevet to MGUSV) from



*Thanks to Jean Shepherd, author of In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, and the movie for which it served as a basis, A Christmas Story. The picture at the top of this post is from the film.  Life Buoy…yech!