Notes to Review of “The Early Morning of War”

22 01 2015

downloadIn the coming days, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Edward G. Longacre’s study of the campaign of First Bull Run, The Early Morning of War. Let me be clear – this is a well written and deeply researched book, is now the “definitive” study of the campaign, and I recommend you read it. Does that mean I agree with everything in it, or believe it is the best work out there? Well, that will become clear as we progress.

I finished the book about a month ago, and have let it sit. While reading, I use little Post-Its to mark passages I find interesting, or disagree with, or agree with, or which prompt me to do more digging. So what I’m going to do is start at the beginning, and share those bits with you. As I’ve said before, not many – maybe not ANY – folks out there agree with me regarding McDowell’s expectations, plans, or intentions, and Longacre is no exception. The trickle-down of this is substantial when evaluating or explaining (or failing to explain) what actually happened. But that’s not all I’ll discuss. So, keep an eye out for these installments – each may cover one, or more, or even less chapters, and I have no idea just yet how many installments there will be.





Photographic Miniatures of First Bull Run Participants

9 01 2015

A few weeks ago, Facebook friend and collector Joe Maghe sent me a few interesting images with First Bull Run connections. Included were some cool, rectangular miniatures, (Joe says they are “Abbott Types”), mementos more than likely purchased as a show of support for the men and cause. Click on the thumbs for larger images.

Fronts

Fronts

Backs

Backs

 

Col. Michael Corcoran of the 69th NYSM, captured at First Bull Run

Col. Michael Corcoran of the 69th NYSM, captured at First Bull Run

Capt. Francis T. Meagher, Co. K, 6th NYSM, acting Major of the regiment at First Bull Run

Capt. Francis T. Meagher, Co. K, 6th NYSM, acting Major of the regiment at First Bull Run

Rev. Father Thomas Mooney, Pastor of St. Brigid's R. C. Church in New York and Chaplain of the 69th NYSM at First Bull Run

Rev. Father Thomas Mooney, Pastor of St. Brigid’s R. C. Church in New York and Chaplain of the 69th NYSM at First Bull Run

Col. [James A.] Mulligan was not a member of the 69th NYSM and was not at First Bull Run. In Chicago, he raised the 23rd Illinois Infantry, which was also known as “Mulligan’s Irish Brigade.”

Below is a LOC photo of Father Mooney celebrating Mass with men and officers of the 69th NYSM in camp near Washington some time prior to the battle. On Father Mooney’s right is Col. Corcoran. Click here for the high def TIFF version.

Sunday Mass in camp of 69th NYSM, near Washington, June, 1861.

Sunday Mass in camp of 69th NYSM, near Washington, June, 1861.

Joe also sent these images of small, disc portraits. Their use is a little less certain.

Col. Michael Corcoran

Col. Michael Corcoran

Thomas F. Meagher

Thomas F. Meagher

Col. Ambrose Burnside, who commanded a brigade in David Hunter's Division of McDowell's Army at First Bull Run

Col. Ambrose Burnside, who commanded a brigade in David Hunter’s Division of McDowell’s Army at First Bull Run

Rhode Island Governor William Sprague, who accompanied Burnside's Brigade at First Bull Run.

Rhode Island Governor William Sprague, who accompanied Burnside’s Brigade at First Bull Run.

Thanks so much to Joe Maghe for sending these. Joe sent other items to share with you which I think you’ll find of interest as well. So stay tuned – and by that I mean check back here every single day.





Kate & Emory Up[ton]date: Presque Isle

27 12 2014
Major General Emory Upton

Major General Emory Upton

In my last post I described to you the familial connection between super-model Kate Upton and First Bull Run participant Emory Upton. After his stint as ADC to Daniel Tyler in July 1861 Emory, as you know, would go on to great fame as a tactical innovator, Civil War Major General, post war army manual author, and ultimately tragic figure. Was his suicide the result of a physical malady (brain tumor) or ego agony resulting from perceptions of the French rendering his work obsolete? We’ll likely never know for sure. But one thing we do know for sure is where he spent the Army of the Potomac’s winter quarters of 1863-1864.

During this period, Upton was in command of the 2nd Birgade, 1st Division, of John Sedgwick’s 6th Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He encamped his brigade on the grounds of the ca. 1815 brick home of the John and Lizzie Major family, known as “Presque Isle,” in Remington, VA, near Culpeper. Civil War battlefield preservation pioneer Clark “Bud” Hall describes the property:

The house and grounds have changed very little since Emory Upton departed on May 4, 1864. Presque Isle, by the way, sits in the narrow “Little Fork,” between the Hazel and Rappahannock Rivers. The colorful name suggests, “almost an island.” It is a magnificent “river mansion.”

Mr. Hall and Craig Swain have generously shared the below period and current images of “Presque Isle.” Click on them for larger versions:

Presque Isle - 1864, Courtesy of Clark Hall - note the white-outlined brick above the left shoulder on the second soldier from left.

Presque Isle – 1864, courtesy of Clark Hall – note the white-outlined brick above the left shoulder of the second soldier from left. That’s Emory Upton, standing center.

Presque Isle today, courtesy of Clark Hall. Current owner Alan Johnson, center. See white-outlined brick near door.

Presque Isle today, courtesy of Clark Hall. Current owner Alan Johnson, center. See white-outlined brick near door.

Presque Isle today, courtesy of Craig Swain

Presque Isle today, courtesy of Craig Swain

Presque Isle today, courtesy of Craig Swain

Presque Isle today, courtesy of Craig Swain

Now, here’s the important part. Should Miss Kate Upton have a desire to connect with her famous relative, Mr. Hall has graciously, dare I say selflessly, made the following offer, with a BONUS:

Craig Swain and myself can arrange a tour of remote Presque Isle–General Upton’s HQ (63-64), at any time. The owner is a close friend, and incidentally, the house sits squarely in the center of the Freeman’s Ford Battlefield (August 22, 1862).

Of course, I will be happy to arrange my schedule to help Mr. Hall and Craig show Ms. Upton about the place, even though I’ve never been there. I mean, it’s the least I can do.

Is there room to ride on the grounds of Presque Isle?

tumblr_mop7p3Tuyg1s81mrio1_500

Kate Upton is an accomplished equestrian. Got this on Tumblr

 

 

 





Kate Upton Exposed! A Civil War Coupling…

13 12 2014
Kate Upton

Kate Upton

A while back I posted this photo of Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton. As if there could ever be a time when the posting of a photo of Kate Upton – weightless, by the way – would be anything less than appropriate, I mentioned in that post that I really had no idea what she had to do with the First Battle of Bull Run, or even with the Civil War. Egged on once again by Craig Swain and my own insatiable thirst for page-views for the sake of page-views, ten grueling minutes of online research bore ample fruit. Get out your notebooks.

The easiest and most obvious potential connection of Ms. Upton to the subject of this blog is through her name. A graduate of the U. S. Military Academy’s Class of May, 1861, Lt. Emory Upton served as an aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler at the First Battle of Bull Run. Google search = Kate Upton Emory Upton.

Hit!

I know Wikipedia is a bad word, but I also know it’s a great place to start. Per Wiki, Frederick and Louis Upton of Battle Creek, MI, along with their uncle, Emory, founded the Upton Machine Co. in 1911. This company incorporated an electric motor in a washing machine for the first time. At this site, I found the photos below:

Louis Upton (L) and Frederick Upton (R)

Louis Upton (L) and Frederick Upton (R)

Upton Machine Co., 1920s

Upton Machine Co., 1920s, Benton Harbor, MI

I also found this unidentified image on the same page:

Who is this guy?

Who is this guy?

At Find-a-Grave I found an entry for an Emory Upton who is buried in Battle Creek, MI, who was the uncle of Louis and Frederick Upton, and co-founder with them of what would eventually become Sears appliance supplier Whirlpool Corp. Is the above photo Emory? I’m figuring yes, because the Find-a-Grave entry notes:

Besides being an inventor of machines, Upton loved music. He was an accomplished tuba, valve trombone and baritone player and performed with the municipal band in St. Joseph. A high point in Upton’s musical life was when John Phillip Sousa took his U.S. Marine Band on a U.S. tour and, right before a concert in St. Joseph, held auditions and chose Emory Upton to play with the band in that night’s concert (a story related by his grandson, Dr. Edward Atwood, to the Herald Palladium).

Whirlpool Corp, by the way, is still headquartered in Benton Harbor, MI. The neighboring communities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are served by the same newspaper, the Herald Palladium. Kate Upton was born in St. Joseph, MI. She is by many different accounts the great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Upton. I found out some other interesting things about Ms. Upton. For instance, did you know she is a world’s champion western style horseback rider? Think of that next time you see this:

So, I’ve connected dear Kate to Emory Upton. But if you know anything about the army officer Upton, you know that the 1911 founding date just doesn’t jive, because he took his own life in San Francisco in 1881. And Whirlpool Emory was born in 1865. But the Find a Grave entry also mentions that the tuba player was a nephew of Major General (his Civil War brevet rank – he was a regular army colonel at his death) Emory Upton.

Cadet Emory Upton, as he may have looked at the time of First Bull Run

Cadet Emory Upton, as he may have looked at the time of First Bull Run

Some of the other sites I visited, trying to confirm this, were unclear. Then I went to Ancestry.com, where everything clicked. This family tree explains things (the link will only work if you have an account, I think.) Colonel Upton was the son of Daniel and Electra Randall Upton. He was born in Batavia, NY. He had a brother, Stephen, also born in Batavia, who died in Battle Creek, MI. Stephen had sons Emory – the tuba/washing machine guy – and Cassius, both born in Battle Creek. And Cassius was the father of Louis and Frederick.

And there you have it. “Our” Emory Upton was the uncle of the uncle (tuba/washing machine guy Emory) of Kate Upton’s great-great-grandfather (Frederick, Louis’s brother.)

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2015 home opener is against Kate’s boyfriend Justin Verlander’s Detroit Tigers. I am a season-ticket holder. Kate, if you’d like to do a meet and greet with me before, during, or after the game, you can have your people get in touch with mine via the contact info over to the right. Or through the comments section of this post.

Kate, BJ, & Justin Upton

Kate, BJ, & Justin Upton

I sincerely hope this puts to rest the absurd notion that my earlier post on Kate Upton and her weightless romp was somehow frivolous.





On Military History

12 12 2014

In the blogosphere, in print, and on social media currently there is a buzz about the subject of military history. I won’t go into the details and give links – just Google Civil War and Military History and you’ll find plenty of examples. Opinions on what “military history” is, what it is not, and what it is becoming vary widely, as do opinions on whether the issue is a mountain or a molehill. So who am I to not take the opportunity to weigh in?

First off, let me stress that I don’t consider myself a historian, military or otherwise. I’ve said that before and nothing has changed. To me, a historian is an individual who has been trained and accredited in the field of history. In short, someone with a degree in history from a post-secondary institution. Now, I try to adhere to a set of standards which I understand to be good practice in the field, but you only have my word to go by. It’s a base-line thing. It’s not qualitative. Historians can produce awful history, and non-historians can produce great history.

While I have not yet found a good definition for military history, I have developed my own, after a fashion. I’ll make it simple – military history to me is not history that simply involves military operations (though based on some awards given out this past year – and pretty hefty ones at that – that does seem to be a working definition for some pretty prestigious organizations.) Military history, in my opinion, at the very least reflects an understanding of  not only military conventions and doctrines of the time in question – say, the American Civil War – but also of how they fit on the developmental timeline. For example, if one is going to critique decision making, one had better have a good grasp of the experiences (education, training, service) that led the actor to that point. And a military historian is someone whose education in history focused on this specialty. That does not mean that someone untrained in military history cannot produce good military history. It does mean, however, that they are not military historians. To me. At this point.

To put it in simple terms, Sheldon is a theoretical physicist. Leonard, poor Leonard, is only a practical (or applied) physicist. Raj is an astrophysicist. And Wolowitz only has a masters. In engineering. A glorified plumber. You see the differences, right?





More on “Corps Commanders in Blue”

11 12 2014

517bM0P30PL._SL500_AA300_Back in October I gave you a sneak-peak at the Ethan Rafuse edited essay collection “Corps Commanders in Blue.” I’ve submitted a full review that will run in either Civil War Times or America’s Civil War – not sure which. This is a really good collection, and I’d put it on the short list for Best of 2014. While the eight authors varied in how well they stuck to the central theme (examination of the individual officers strictly as corps commanders), all produced informative sketches of their subjects. Best of the eight for me were Fitz-John Porter, George G. Meade (a great counter to some recent suggestions about the snapping-turtle), Joseph Hooker and 20th Corps, and Winfield Scott Hancock in the Overland Campaign. This last stuck to the theme best, I thought, while some others went astray into the weeds of operations. Thumbs up, and here’s hoping more along this line – especially more Union sketches – is on the way.





Dixon Miles Court of Inquiry News

26 11 2014

Friend Jim Rosebrock, host of the blog South from the North Woods, on a recent trip to the National Archives was kind enough to photograph the contents of the file containing the documents associated with the Dixon Miles First Bull Run Court of Inquiry for First Bull Run. Late in the day on July 21, 1861, Colonel Israel B. Richardson leveled a charge of drunkenness at Miles, to whose division Richardson’s brigade had been temporarily attached. This charge resulted in Irvin McDowell removing Miles from command, and at Miles’s request the Court of Inquiry was later convened.

I now have over 150 images of handwritten documents to transcribe, the bulk of which are of witness testimony. As far as I know, this file has never appeared in print or digital format, so we’re breaking new ground here. Long ago I posted the summary of the court’s finding here, and this is the index page I’ll be using for all the documents. Below is a taste of what I have to work with – thankfully the penmanship is not generally this poor (click for a larger image.)

IMG_1245








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