Much Ado about a Do

22 12 2006

The Jim Lane hat-hair posts have spawned at least three offspring in the blogosphere.

Dmitri Rotov has some thoughts.

So does Joshua Blair.

A most provocative post comes from the writer of Cromwell’s Warts.   “Fortyrounder” gives some insight into why bad or careless hair styling is so prevalent in photographs of the era:

“…here is a passage from The Habits of Good Society, 1859:

It was at one time the fashion to affect a certain negligence, which was called poetic, and supposed to be the result of genius.  An ill-tied, if not positively untied cravat was a sure sign of an unbridled imagination; and a waistcoat was held together by one button only, as if the swelling soul in the wearer’s bosom had burst all the rest.  If in addition to this the hair was unbrushed and curly, you were certain of passing for a ‘man of soul’.  I should not recommend any young gentleman to adopt this style, unless he can mouth a great deal, and has a good stock of quotations of the poets.  It is of no use to show me the clouds, unless I can see you in them, and no amount of negligence in your dress and person will convince me you are a genius, unless you can produce an octavo of poems published by yourself.”

Food for thought.


And now that I DO think of it…


What’s the verdict?  Carelessly unkempt, or masterfully manipulative?



Senator Jim at Bull Run

30 11 2006

jim_lane.jpgFirst, here’s that Jim Lane image to which I referred in a previous post, Kansas at First Bull Run.  Thanks to reader Pat Jones for providing the link to Miller’s Paranormal Research.  No, I have no idea why Lane’s picture appears on a paranormal research website.  Maybe because his hair appears to defy gravity.  Is that top-hat-hair?  What was he thinking?  Why didn’t his peeps do a better job tending to his image?  You’ll never see a picture of John Edwards or Mitt Romney with such a tousled do.  But this picture does go a long way to explain the haircut on the mayor of Munchkin Land.  An homage to Dorothy Gale’s home state, perhaps?

As I was looking through my library for references to Lane at the battle – remember, I had the notion at the back of my noggin that he was there, but couldn’t remember how I knew that or if I was right – I found that Lane’s name does not appear in the indexes of any of the standard histories of the battle I have read.  It is not in Johnston, Hanson, Beatie, Davis, Bearss, Hennessy, McDonald, Rafuse, or Detzer (note to self: write a post summarizing these books).  While he had no specific recollection of Lane at Bull Run, an email from Ethan Rafuse reminded me of a John Hennessy article that appeared in an issue of Civil War Times Illustrated in 2001 titled War Watchers at Bull Run and available online here.  That article reminded me of another that appeared in Civil War History in 1998, The View from the Top of the Knoll; Capt. John C. Tidball’s Memoir of the First Battle of Bull Run, by Eugene C. Tidball (this article would be incorporated in a biography by the same author, “No Disgrace to My Country”: The Life of John C. Tidball).  The Hennessy article is not footnoted, but Capt. Tidball’s account appears to be the basis for some of it.   So, it would appear on the surface that the Tidball account of Lane’s presence is uncorroborated.  What follows has been cobbled from these sources.

Col. Dixon Miles’ division was deployed in reserve and to cover Blackburn’s Ford.  Tidball and his four gun Battery A, 2nd US Artillery were stationed on a knoll just west of Centreville, part of Blenker’s brigade of Miles’ division.  Centreville is situated on a ridge known generally as the Centreville Ridge, and the area of the knoll has been referred to as the Heights of Centreville.  On July 21st, this area five miles from the battlefield became a collection point for non-military personell who sallied forth from Washington for various reasons.  It was here that Tidball observed a group of civilians that included senators Wilson (MA), Wade (OH) and Lane.  Tidball observed that all of them were “full of the ‘On to Richmond’ fervor”.  The senators expressed some disappointment at the limited view, and Tidball urged patience.

But Old Jim was fiery, he said he must have a hand in it himself.  His friends not wishing to go so far as that tried to convince him that he could do no good in the fight without a gun.  “O, never mind that,” he said, “I can easily find a musket on the field.  I have been there before and know that guns are easily found where fighting is going on.  I have been there before and know what it is.”  He had been a colonel of an Indiana regiment during the Mexican War, and this was the old fire sparking again.  Nothing could hold him back, and off the party started down the slope and over the fields in the direction of the firing.  I saw nothing more of them until late in the afternoon.

The trio reached a point that provided a good view of the battlefield, on a ridge about a mile east of the Stone Bridge on the Warrenton Turnpike.  Today this overlook is a large and deep quarry.  Not many civilians made it this far, and the senators joined a group which included some reporters, Ohio judge Daniel McCook, and a New Jersey politician named John Taylor.  During the day this group probably never grew to more than 50 people.

What Lane did after reaching this point is not clear.  Tidball did not see Lane again until the retreat.  By this time Tidball had advanced to another knoll, this one overlooking the Cub Run valley – he had been moving to the Stone Bridge, only to be ordered to clear the road, choked with retreating Union troops, by Col. William T. Sherman.  After establishing his position, he saw the three senators scurrying up the slope towards him:

Lane was the first to pass me; he was mounted barebacked on an old flea-bitten gray horse with rusty harness on, taken probably from some of the huxter wagons that had crowded to the front.  Across the harness lay his coat, and on it was a musket which, sure enough, he had found, and for ought I know may have done some various deeds with it before starting back in the panic.  He was long, slender and hay-seed looking.  His long legs kept kicking far back to the rear to urge his old beast to greater speed, and so he sped on.

That’s about all I’ve learned about Lane at Bull Run.  I’ll have to track down the account of Taylor that Hennessy also used in his article.  I’ve read an address given by Lloyd Lewis about Lane before the Kansas State Historical Society in 1939, The Man the Historians Forgot, available here.  I’ve also viewed an 1897 biography by John Speer, Life of General James. H. Lane, available here. These don’t mention Lane at the battle.  Let me know if any of you out there have anything more on Lane at BR1.  I think Lane is a fascinating character, and wonder if any modern biography may be in the works.

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Kansas at First Bull Run

23 11 2006


Much has been written of the civilians present at the First Battle of Bull Run, mostly in a dismissive, derogatory manner.  David Detzer treats the matter more practically and, I think, fairly in Donnybrook.  Many of these observers had familial or official ties to the men of McDowell’s army (I hesitate to refer to the army as “Army of Northeastern Virginia”, because while I have found that there was such a department, I can find nothing on any such officially named army).  Quite a few were politicians, including the Secretaries of State and the Treasury.  Secretary of War Cameron shuttled back and forth between Washington and McDowell’s HQ.  Various senators and representatives from congress were present, as many of the participants were their constituents.  These included Senator Wilson of Massachusetts, Senator Wade of Ohio, and  Congressman Ely of New York, who wandered so near the front that he was captured by the rebels.  Rhode Island governor Sprague – who later would capture one of the most sought after prizes of the Civil War, Secretary Chase’s daughter, the alluring Kate – took a hand in the direction of infantry and artillery on the battlefield.

And among those present at the battle were two senators from western states who would later become Union generals, John Logan of Illinois and James Lane of Kansas. 

“Jim” Lane was the proud owner of perhaps the worst hairdo outside of A Flock of Seagulls.  That’s his picture at the end of the Kansas Again post.  Here’s a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Lane:   


My favorite Lane photo can be found in Edward Leslie’s deeply flawed The Devil Knows How to Ride: The True Story of William Clarke Quantrill and His Confederate Raiders.  That photo, showing an impossibly coiffed Lane, is reproduced courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society, but I couldn’t find it on their website.  I imagine it is a moneymaker for them.  If anyone has a digital copy of it, let me know.  

Senator Jim (not to be confused with Reverend Jim, pictured here)   


was born in either Boone County, KY or Lawrenceburg, IN, in 1814.  His father was a judge and politician, and at one time a member of Congress.  Jim followed his father into the law and politics, led Indiana troops in the war with Mexico, and eventually represented Indiana in Congress (1853-1855), where he voted in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska act.  

In 1855, Lane relocated to Kansas, perhaps to help organize the Democrat party in the territory.  Corruption in the party there led to the formation of the Topeka Movement, a free-state organization.  The movement was a coalition of New Englanders and Westerners, and Lane headed up the western contingent.  While no abolitionist, Lane was opposed to pro-slavery efforts to admit slavery into the territories through nefarious means.  He came to lead the military arm of the movement and took to appearing in military garb.

In 1856, on behalf of the free-state Topeka government Lane petitioned Congress for Kansas’ admission to the Union as a state.  Oddly, all of the signatures on the petition appeared to be written by the same person.  While he was in Washington, fighting broke out between pro-slavery and free-state forces in Kansas.  Lane raised an army and entered Kansas from Iowa and Nebraska.  Union army forces under territorial governor John Geary calmed things down, and Lane returned to his law practice and farm.

In 1858, Jim Lane killed another free-state settler over a property line disagreement.  He was acquitted of murder but maintained his political influence, and when Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861 Lane represented the new state in the U. S. Senate.  In the early days of the war, Lane formed a group of Kansas men called the Frontier Guard and assigned them the role of protecting the White House.

Around this time, Lane and President Lincoln became friendly, and AL would later take sides with Lane in disputes with Kansas Governor Charles Robinson, the former leader of the New England contingent of the Topeka Movement.  Lincoln appointed Lane a brigadier general of US volunteers in August 1861.  You won’t find him in Generals in Blue – his commission was cancelled in March of 1862 because sitting congressmen were not permitted to hold a general officer commission.  However he was reinstated the following month.  As far as I know, Lane is the only person to hold both the office and the commission without being required to give one up, a sign of one hell of a politician.

During the war Lane directed some small operations along the Missouri-Kansas border.  He was reelected to his seat in the Senate in 1865.  At the end of the war, he directed Captain Redleg Terrell and Fletcher to apprehend the outlaw Josey Wales, telling Fletcher:   


“The war’s over. Our side won the war. Now we must busy ourselves winning the peace. And Fletcher, there’s an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils.”  To which Fletcher responded with the classic:  


“There’s another old saying, Senator: Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.” Senator Lane came back with his own classic, in response to Fletcher’s outrage at the killing of his guerrillas after their surrender: “They were decently treated. They were decently fed and then they were decently shot. Those men are common outlaws, nothing more.”  It’s ironic that an actor named Schofield played Lane in the film, because the real Senator  had a run in with General John Schofield in the aftermath of the raid on Lawrence.

[Edit] Some folks didn’t “get it”: the above is a reference to the film “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.  The film is fiction.  

OK, sorry about that!  Anyway, after Lincoln’s assassination Lane unfortunately took the side of Andrew Johnson in his veto of the Civil Rights bill and drew the ire of the Radical Republicans.  Coincidentally, he came under investigation for some shady war contracts by which he may have illegally profited.  On July 1, 1866, while riding with two friends in Leavenworth, KS, Lane drew his revolver and shot himself in the mouth.  He died ten days later and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, KS (photo from  More on Lane and what he did at Bull Run later.



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Kansas Again

17 11 2006

I was able to find a few more bits related to the Eldridge Hotel (and I’m sure I could find a whole lot more).  Various history organizations in the state have put beau coup stuff online.  Here’s an image of  Sheriff Sam Jones, courtesy of Kansas History Online by way of Google Images.


And here is an image of the ruins of the Free State Hotel after Sheriff Sam burned it down.  This is from Territorial Kansas Online


 It turns out that Shalor Eldridge vowed to rebuild the hotel with an additional floor were it ever destroyed by pro-slavery forces, and he was true to his word twice.  Here he is with his family, thanks to Territorial Kansas Online once again.  Click the image for a full size version.


And here are the rules for guests of his establishement from TKO again (click on the image to get a more legible one).


You see, this is the thing with pulling threads.  It’s really not conducive to the bleeding-kansas.jpgcompletion of a narrowly defined project.  I could go on and on with web research alone.  There are a number of books written on “Bleeding Kansas”, and here is a recent one.  It is by Nicole Etcheson, a history professor at Ball State.  I’ve not read the book, so if any of you have, I welcome your comments.

Now, some of you may be asking “What the heck does Kansas have to do with Bull Run?”  Well, come back within the next week or so and I’ll tell you.  And I promise it won’t be the standard “The Civil War started in Kansas” line (even though it is a valid link).  For now, here’s a hint:


I can hear him thinking to himself: “Will it be Delawarians, or Delawarites?”