Brands and Bandages

11 12 2009

Author and blogger Jim Schmidt sent me nicely inscribed copies of  his book Lincoln’s Labels: America’s Best Known Brands and the Civil War, and a collection of essays he co-edited with Guy Hasegawa, Years of Change and Suffering; Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine.  I long ago realized I’ll never be able to read all the books I have cover to cover, let alone all the new ones I get.  But Labels looks right up my alley, current day connections to the Civil War, so I’m going to read this one as soon as I finish my current read, a biography of Israel B. Richardson.  I’ll read at least a few of the essays in Years of Change since I read Doctors in Blue last year.  But for now here’s a brief preview:

Years consists of eight essays: four by MD’s, one by a PharmD, one by a PhD, one by a bioanalytical chemist, and one by an MA in history who specializes in medical history.  No dummies here.  Topics are a Virginia medical school; Scientific American Magazine; Amputations; a biography of a Confederate medical innovator; urological wounds (ouch!); Southern Resources, Southern Medicines;  neurology; and the effects of “Combat Exposure”.  Most of the essays run about 20 pages, so this looks like a quick read.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Update on “Letters” Citation Flap

8 12 2009

Go here for an update to this post

[UPDATE 12/9/2009: See also here.  It seems the editor still doesn’t “get it” regarding the blogger’s point about the citation in the essay, or the fact that transcriptions – or “extracts”, as he calls them – while perhaps more reliable, are just that, transcriptions and not original correspondence, even if they are written by the original letter writer.  It would appear that some few of the “extracts” in question do include indication of to whom the destroyed letter was addressed.  Here, another historian weighs in.]

Some may argue that the blogger is making a fine point (though I’m sure there are some diehards who will say he’s making no point at all).  Fine or not, it’s a valid point and one with which I think one would be hard pressed to objectively argue against.  Since the blogger in question doesn’t allow comments for his own reasons – no less valid than the reasons I have for allowing them here – feel free to discuss this issue in the comments section to this post.  I received a few emails regarding this kerfuffle, but no comments, which I view as evidence of unwillingness (understandable, I think) of the writers to go “on record”.

Part I

Part III

Part IV

Springfield, IL: Part IV – Old State Capitol

6 12 2009

On Saturday, Oct. 10 this year my family and I visited the Old State Capitol  in Springfield, IL (see overview of the trip here).  After our tour of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, we walked across Adams Street to the state house, where Lincoln served in the state legislature.  This building served as the fifth seat of Illinois state government from 1839 to 1876 (the preceding four were not in Springfield), and is now maintained by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

Here are a few shots of a descriptive marker on the grounds, the building, and detail of the front columns (click the thumbs for larger images):


Upon entering the state house, the central hall is dominated by the staircases to the second floor, from the landing of which can be seen the interior of the dome:


The first floor of the Capitol houses the offices of the auditor, secretary of state, and treasurer, as well as the state library, law library, and supreme court.  Here are photos of each in order:


The second floor is where the senate and hall of representatives are located.  There are a few interesting items outside these large rooms, including a statue of Stephen Douglas, a banner from Lincoln’s 1860 campaign, an old-timey mouse trap (death by drowning, I think), and the Adjutant General’s office (occupied 1869-1873 by old leather breeches Hubert Dilger):


Here’s the Senate Chamber:

Lincoln delivered his House Divided” speech in the Hall of Representatives, where he had served, upon his being put forth as a candidate for the U. S. Senate in 1858.  A little under 7 years later, his body would lie in state in the same room:


The coolest thing I picked up on my trip was a free handout at the Old Capitol.  It’s Lincoln’s last paycheck from the legislature.  It contains three very interesting signatures: Lincoln’s; Auditor James Shields; and Treasurer John Whiteside.  This is cool because, as you most likely know, future Civil War general Shields once challenged Lincoln to a duel over some critical letters that appeared in the Sangamo Journal known as the Rebecca Letters, the second of which was almost certainly written by Lincoln.  As the challenged party, Lincoln chose broadswords for weapons, and put some other creative limitations on the contest such that neither man could possibly strike the other, or that the much taller Lincoln only could reach his shorter opponent.  Shields’s second in all of this was Whiteside.  You can find all the correspondence on page 291 of volume I of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln.  Or you can go here and advance through the sections to see all the correspondence and notes.

I forgot to ask where Lincoln had his office during the presidential campaign (or was it after the election and prior to the inauguration?) – if any of you readers know, clue me in.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part V

Part VI

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

When is a Collection of Papers Not Really a Collection of Papers?

5 12 2009

Most folks who have read The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan assume that the collection consists of original correspondence merely transcribed and annotated by the editor.  See here for what much of it really is.  It’s not what you think.  For more discussion of these “letters” by the same blogger, see here.

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Civil War Times – February 2010

4 12 2009

The new issue of Civil War Times has been mailed.  The cover is one of my favorite photographs of Robert E. Lee, taken on the steps of his rented home in Richmond shortly after the surrender of his army at Appomattox Court House.  Lee’s face clearly shows bitterness and defiance – perhaps he was still in denial.  I saw the lens Matthew Brady used to take this photo, in Warren Motts’s Military Museum in Columbus (see here).  This issue includes two Lee pieces, one by Gary Gallagher (Do the Numbers Add Up for “Marse Robert”?), the other by Noah Andre Trudeau (Lee’s Last Hurrah, about his postwar tour through the South).  Other feature articles:

  • Guerilla War on the High Seas by Craig L. Symonds
  • “To Rise Again”: the salvage of  USS Monitor by Kristina Fiore.
  • Seeing the War Firsthand:  rare newspaper sketches by Helen Hannon.
  • “Mimic War” No More: Phil Sheridan’s and Jubal Early’s faceoff in August 1864 by Fred Ray.

I also have a review of R. K. Krick’s entry in Broadfoot’s South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set, The 14th South Carolina Infantry Regiment, of the Gregg-McGowan Brigade on page 66.  And on page 15, I have a brief news item and photo on the Potomac Crossing and Shepherdstown Battlefield Tour program I wrote about here.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

A Question for Pointy Heads

3 12 2009

OK, excuse the title of this post – I wanted to get your attention.  I’m not one of those outsiders who holds academe in disdain; I even have a few friends and acquaintances on the inside whom I like and admire.  That clarification made, I have a question for them and any others of their ilk who’d like to contribute: has good old-fashioned American self-loathing affected how the history of the middle period – those years surrounding and including the Civil War – has been interpreted and taught on campus?  If so, how?

Man, there are some great self-loathing cartoons out there, and even a fake magazine, but I didn’t have any time to get permission to use them.


2 12 2009

John Wesley Powell

I’m back from an extended break from work and blogging.  Saw the Grand Canyon, and if you’ve never been, it’s something that can’t be described, photographed, or filmed adequately.  John Wesley Powell, a Union vet who lost an arm at Shiloh, explored and mapped the Canyon extensively; that was about the only Civil War connection I made the whole trip, and I think the family was pretty happy about that.  Anyway, I have some catching up to do work-wise, and will be back to posting soon.  I finished up Larry Tagg’s The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln, an important book, and will share my thoughts good and bad later.