SCWH Newsletter

9 10 2009

I received the Fall 2009 Society of Civil War Historians newsletter today.  Mostly it lists the Civil War related sessions at the upcoming Southern Historical Association‘s conference in Louisville, KY in November.

By far the best thing in this issue of the newsletter is Mark Grimsley’s review of Battle: the Nature and Consequences of Civil War Combat, a collection of essays edited by Kent Gramm.  I reviewed the collection in brief for America’s Civil War last year, and there’s only so much one can do with the “in brief” format.  Prof. Grimsley gave the essays by GNMP historian Scott Hartwig and Dr. Bruce Evans high marks, but skewered the remaining four with considerable flair.  Check it out – it should be in your mailbox today, unless you’re not a member.  You can fix that by going here.

On Academics and Popular Media

22 04 2009

sex-pistolsFriend Dana Shoaf, managing editor of Civil War Times and America’s Civil War, is featured in this article from the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.  The speech in question appears to be similar to one he gave at the Society of Civil War Historians conference in Philadelphia last June.  I covered it here.

I’m guessing that back in the late ’70’s – early ’80’s Dana and I were listening to a lot of the same music. 

SCWH Newsletter Spring 2009

20 04 2009

Today’s mail brought Vol. XXII, No. 2 of the newsletter of the Society of Civil War Historians.  I guess that’s a good sign in that it means they haven’t kicked me out yet.  Included in this issue:  the organization welcomed its new president, James Marten, who takes the helm from George Rable;  three book reviews (a little dated with two from 2008 and one from 2007); an announcement of a new series from Southern Illinois University Press, Legal History of the Civil War Era; and a call for papers for the 2nd Annual SCWH conference coming up June 17-19, 2010 in Richmond, VA.

Most interesting was the announcement of the new Tom Watson Brown Book Award.  This will present a $50,000 prize “annually to the author of the outstanding book on the causes, conduct, and effects, broadly defined, of the Civil War.  All genres of scholarship within the field will be eligible, including, but not exclusive to monographs, synthetic works presenting original interpretations, and biographies.”  The emphasis is mine, placed on what I hope is a good sign regarding this award, considering recent book awards to synthetic works that, as far as I could tell, did not present original interpretations.  Let’s see if they stick to the guidelines.

Society of (Mostly) Civil War Historians – Part IV

22 08 2008

I apologize for taking so long to make this promised entry in my series detailing the first biennial meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians held in Philadelphia’s Union League Club this past June.  One thing led to another… you know how it goes.  Anyway, in this concluding installment I’ll tell you a little bit about the venue, which was every bit as impressive as the program and the presenters.

The Club is situated on Broad St., south of City Hall (that’s the view to the municipal HQ), and is easily identified by its red hue and ornate double curving staircases.  The Broad St. entrance is flanked on either side by monuments to two city militia regiments, the First Pennsylvania National Guard Infantry Regiment and, oh, somebody help me out with the other one:


I won’t go into great detail on the history of the Club/League.  Suffice to say it was formed early in the war as a way for citizens of the city to publicly profess their support for the Lincoln administration.  You can read a little about its founding on the historical marker above, and here is a commemorative book, published on the 40th Anniversary of the Club.

One is immediately struck by the massive art collection that adorns the walls of the club, much of it with a Civil War theme, which makes sense considering the League’s origin.  And we ain’t talking Bradley Schmel or Don Stivers here.  The club has the original oil paintings of Xanthus Smith’s USS Kearsarge vs. CSS Alabama and The Monitor and the Merrimac, paintings you’ve doubtless seen reproduced dozens of times.  Right there, at eye level!  Click on the thumbs for a larger image – click on the larger image for a ginormous one:


This being Philadelphia, favorite sons were prominent, including this massive full-length portrait of George Gordon Meade, and the Philadelphia Brigade HQ pennant used by Alexander Webb at Gettysburg:


The Union League raised nine infantry regiments and 5 companies of cavalry during the war, and this piece was commissioned to commemorate them:

But the club doesn’t limit itself to the collection of Civil War art.   Check out this massive portrait of George Washington by Thomas Sully, and his original smaller study (sorry I didn’t provide a sense of scale – trust me, this sucker is HUGE):


The Union League is one of the few – maybe the only – private clubs in the nation to employ a full-time director of library and collections.  Jim Mundy guided a tour of the club for conference attendees following the afternoon sessions on Monday, and about 40 or so opted to follow.  Afterwards, he mentioned that he had a few more items in the club’s huge library (the general library, not to be confused with their very impressive Lincoln Library which houses the Civil War volumes) that he would be happy to exhibit to anyone who was interested.  About ten of us took him up on the offer.  If you were one of the 30 or so who chose to bug out, you might want to stop reading now.

First this very proper gentleman in a bow tie yanks out of some vault a printed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation which was one of 24 sold to raise funds for the war effort.  And it was signed.  By Sec’y of State William Seward.  And Lincoln’s secretary John Hay (although it could have been Nicolay, I can’t remember).  And oh yeah, by Abraham Lincoln, too – in a very firm hand.  And I got to hold it.  In my hands.  In a frame, sure, but I held it, one of only 12 known to exist.  It sold for $10 back in 1863.  I offered Mr. Mundy $20.  He looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.

Next Mr. Mundy produced a home-made book, made up of paper sheets attached to each side of linen leaves.  It was in very good shape, with clear handwriting.  On April 14, 1865, after having been shot in Ford’s Theater, President Lincoln was removed to a nearby house owned by William Petersen.  There Secretary of War Edwin Stanton began to interview eyewitnesses to the assassination attempt, in order to make some sense out of a developing and chaotic situation.  The amount of information coming in was getting hard to handle, so Stanton sent out feelers for someone skilled in taking shorthand.  Next door they found their man, James Tanner, a veteran of the 87th New York Infantry (aka 13th Brooklyn) who had lost both legs at 2nd Bull Run and learned shorthand to earn his living clerking at the War Department.  As the evening wore on, Tanner took shorthand notes of the witness interviews, periodically taking breaks to transcribe the notes to long hand.  The next day (the 16th, I think), Tanner copied all of his long hand transcriptions and gave them to Stanton.  He kept the shorthand notes and original transcriptions.  These were the pages attached to the linen leaves of the book.  Very cool.  Understandably this item was not passed around to the group.

Lastly another framed item magically appeared.  The rustic display included newspaper clippings, handwritten notes, a couple of photographs, and a piece of cloth.  All pertained to the story of a gentleman who helped prepare Lincoln’s body, at some point in its movements from the Petersen House to the White House, to the autopsy, to the embalming.  I’m sorry, but I can’t recall the details.  I was overwhelmed and had forgotten my notebook.  The piece of cloth was one of six relics given to the gentleman and five companions who helped with the body: pieces of the President’s undershirt.  For the rest of his life, the man wore the scrap pinned to the left inside of his coat, so it rested next to his heart.  Upon close examination – yep, I got to hold this frame, too – I could make out the dozens of tiny pinholes.  I think you can see them too, if you look closely:


The conference was a great success, and I’m glad I went.  And it was very affordable.  Consider membership – it’s open to non-eggheads like me and you.  All the info you need is right here.  The 2010 conference will be hosted by The University of Richmond.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Society of (Mostly) Civil War Historians Part III

3 07 2008

Continued from here.

Tuesday, the third and final day of the conference, began with Conscription and Consequences.  The panel was chaired by Robert Kenzer of the University of Richmond, who also commented on the papers.  This could have been a subset of the Beleaguered Cincinnatus panel from the day before.  First up was Christine Dee with “Now is a Time when Strange Men and Strange Things are in Vogue”:  The Provost Marshal’s Agents and the Meaning of Local Resistance in Northern Communities.  In this Dee detailed the processes by which communities resisted conscription and the provost marshals’ attempts to enforce it.  Attempts by provost marshals to “embed” themselves in communities were resented by residents, and sometimes violence resulted, prompted by both citizens and the PMs.  Also complicating enforcement were ethnic differences and contested citizenship.  PMs during the war deputized locals and formed paramilitary bands to gather up deserters and evaders, and bounties were awarded.  Even after the war, the PMs continued their activities in communities, not only in collecting deserters and evaders but also others who committed crimes against the military. 

John Sacher’s paper, titled Confederate Substitutes and Principals: A Preliminary Analysis, covered a topic that is rarely discussed, that of the policy of the hiring of substitutes by men (principals) drafted into the Confederate army.  While the policy was outlawed and all principals were subsequently ordered into the army, Sacher argues that the use of compliance of principals with the order as a sign of Confederate loyalty is a slim reed.  Rockingham County, VA is the focus of Sacher’s study.  (An interesting tidbit – at one point newspapers encouraged women to mail petticoats to principals.)

The 10:30 session was to be chaired by Ethan Rafuse, whose misadventures resulting in his inability to attend can be found here.  Susannah Bruce, who was to comment, took on the additional duty of chairing The Influence of Military Operations on Politics and Policy in the Trans-Mississippi.  I took more notes during this session than in any other, perhaps because it dealt with the Trans-Miss theatre, with which I am least familiar.  Fellow blogger Drew Wagenhoffer would have been in heaven, I think.  Terry Beckenbaugh started things off with The Economics of Race: Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis’ Policies toward African-Americans and Native Americans in the Trans-Mississippi, 1862-1864.  Perhaps best known for his victory at Pea Ridge, Curtis was a Whig turned Republican who repudiated racial equality while at the same time believing that a person could not be property.  As his Army of the Southwest marched through Arkansas (cutting his supply line and living off the land well before the idea occurred to the likes of Grant and Sherman), Curtis freed slaves and gave them confiscated cotton, thus vesting their interest in Union victory.  Curtis believed that the possibility of being accused of inciting servile insurrection was worth the risk if his actions damaged the enemy.  Later, Curtis’ treatment of the Indians when he moved further west was very severe, giving John Chivington justification for the Sand Creek Massacre when he said there could be “no peace until the Indians suffer more”.  While contrabands were working toward the same end as Curtis – Union victory – the Indians were not; they were in the way.

Jeff Prushankin’s paper, Politics as War by Other Means: The Gray-Lewis Louisiana Congressional Campaign of 1864, examined yet another little discussed topic – the effect of the conduct of the war on political elections in the Confederacy.  The war didn’t last long enough for the effect to be realized on a national level, but the Gray-Lewis campaigns illustrate how it manifested on a smaller scale.  There was a good deal of conflict between Richard Taylor’s command in Louisiana and that of Edmund Kirby Smith’s in Arkansas – it would seem that Smith was behaving somewhat selfishly (I don’t know much about it, but imagine you can find out more in Jeff’s fine book which I have yet to read).  Orders were given and disobeyed, reenforcements withheld, arrests made.  Taking advantage of this Crisis in Confederate Command was Union general Nathaniel Banks.  It was no surprise that the Confederate public took sides with Taylor or Smith.  Two candidates for a vacant congressional seat emerged, with one being perceived to support Taylor (Henry Gray) and one Smith (John Langdon, though his camp denied any ties to Smith).  The election turned into a referendum on Smith and Taylor, with the Taylor candidate (Gray) winning.  Gray went to Richmond and presented evidence tying Smith to the illegal cotton trade, and the tide of public opinion turned decidedly against Smith across the Confederacy.

In Pressured on Every Side: Conflicts between Military and Civilian Priorities planning the Camden Expedition of 1864, Alfred Wallace (yet another Penn Stater) looked at the conciliatory policy practiced in Arkansas by Frederick Steele.  Steele encouraged his troops to fraternize with the residents of Little Rock, where in 1863 there seemed to be a significant Union sentiment.  While the ranks seemed to support Steele, his cavalry commander, Davidson, angry that Steele was breaking down his horses in frivolous races, claimed his conciliatory policy was folly and that only long-hidden Unionists were taking the loyalty oath.  The rumor soon spread that Daniel Sickles was headed to Arkansas to displace Steele.  While that didn’t come about, General James Blunt arrived in Fort Smith, found conditions unfavorable and began lobbying for Steele’s job.  All of these factors affected planning for the upcoming Camden Expedition.  Wallace seemed to feel much of the criticism of Steele was warranted.

 I went once again to McGillan’s for lunch, alone this time as Dana had left that morning and Tom and Angela were visiting Independence Hall.  After lunch I hit the book vendors once again, making four purchases at a hefty discount – it seems the booksellers were very anxious to move product as the conference came to a close.

For the final, 2:30 session of the conference I chose Gearing Up for the Civil War Centennial in the High School Classroom, chaired by Andrew Slap with coments by Ronald Maggiano of West Springfield High School in Virginia.  This panel was organized by fellow blogger Kevin Levin, which makes this summary easy: his presentation is posted by him here, and he briefly recapped the conference here.  I’ll let Kevin speak for himself, and just add that his paper, Using Ken Burns’s The Civil War in the Classroom, was superbly delivered and well received.  James Percoco, whose book Summers with Lincoln I had just purchased upstairs, was next with Monumental Memories of the Sixteenth President.  His PowerPoint slide presentation was an encapsulation of his book: Percoco uses the stories of seven important sculptures to tell the larger tale of Lincoln, the Civil War, and emancipation.  After the session was over Mr. Percoco was kind enough to sign my copy of his book.

Afterwards I went out into the hallway and said my goodbyes.  I made sure to again thank Carol Reardon to hepping me to the shindig – I was really glad I went.  I took a quick circuit around the first and second floors one more time to get a last look at the fine artwork (I’ll talk about that and more in Part IV).  Just before leaving, I was checking out a plaque memorializing the nine regiments raised by the Union League during the war.  Kevin Levin crept up behind and whispered “Take a long look Harry; it’s probably the last time they’ll let us in this place.”  For the most part, he’s probably right, but the League is absorbing the old Civil War and Underground Railroad Museum collection into its own impressive holdings and will house the whole thing in their building, which will be accessible by the public.

I walked to meet my ride to the airport at The Locust Bar at 9th & Locust, had a couple of cold ones, and was off to catch my 8:00 PM flight for Pittsburgh.  It was a nice surprise to see Lesley Gordon sitting in the seat behind me, though that arrangement wasn’t conducive to much conversation.

All in all the Society of Civil War Historians first conference appeared to me a success, and I think I’ll keep my membership active with the intent to attend the 2010 conference in Richmond.  I hope to see many of you there.

Part I

Part II 

Part IV

Society of (Mostly) Civil War Historians Part II

28 06 2008

(Continued from here)

The sessions on Monday and Tuesday followed the same format: three two hour sessions ran simultaneously in the three Grant rooms on the first floor of the building, twice in the morning and once in the afternoon, with the sessions ending at 4:30 PM.  There was also a roundtable discussion on Monday evening at 7:30.  I’m only going to discuss the sessions I attended, but the schedule can (as of today) be found here.

At 8:30 Monday morning I joined Tom Clemens for Other Civil War Soldiers, chaired by Lesley Gordon of the University of Akron, who lives not far from me and with whom I had previously corresponded.  I’ve also heard her speak a few times at the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable.  The format of the panels consisted of the delivery of multiple papers, with a critique (usually by the chair) and then questions from the audience.  The panelists were Chris Walsh, Cowardice in the Union Army; Jonathon White, Copperheads in the Union Army; and Mark Stepsis, The Lost Years: Connecticut’s Disabled Soldiers (Mark’s title wisely employing the academically ubiquitous colon).

Chris Walsh’s paper dealt with the disciplinary consequences of cowardice by examining the records of JAG Joseph Holt, to whom a charge of cowardice was a very serious thing indeed.  Jonathon White examined voting records of soldiers in the presidential election of 1864, concluding that the results were a result of many choosing what they saw as the lesser of two evils, and repudiation not of the Democrat presidential candidate but of Democrats, their vice-presidential candidate (Pendleton) and Copperheads.  According to White, scholars’ conclusions that the results evidence support of Republican war aims have been overstated.  Mark Stepsis looked at records and statistics relative to the experiences of disabled Union veterans in Connecticut after the war.

In Lesley Gordon’s closing I learned that Illinois and Massachusetts did not allow its soldiers to vote in the election of 1864, and that the state of Maryland allowed all Union soldiers stationed there to vote.  The paper on cowardice, while it dealt with Union records, got me to thinking about some issues raised in Joseph Glatthaar’s General Lee’s Army (see here and here) about an inherent lack of discipline among males in Southern society and in the army.  If the notions of manhood differed north and south, did notions of cowardice differ as well?  While Glatthaar did attend the conference, I never got a chance to ask his opinion.

I also attended the 10:45 AM panel Beleaguered Cincinnatus: Problems of Mobilization and Demobilization in the Civil War Era”, chaired by Randall Miller, with comments by Paul Cimbala (whose new book I am reviewing in brief for the upcoming issue of America’s Civil War).  Colons abounded in these paper titles, and I think the audience breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Penn Stater Timothy Orr read “We are No Grumblers”: The Mutiny and Muster-Out of the Pennsylvania Reserve Division in 1864, which dealt with the SNAFU associated with differences between the state and Federal muster-in dates and the soldiers reactions to what they felt was a violation of their enlistment “contracts”.  James Broomall’s “I Can’t See What Will Become of Us”: Civilians and Soldiers during the Confederacy’s Collapse and Beyond examined the civil strife and confusion in the wake of Confederate demobilization.  Andrew Slap’s A More Common War: African American Soldiers and the Garrisoning of Memphis I found most interesting because it dealt with a topic with which I am relatively unfamiliar: African-American soldiers in the west.  Most black units served in the west in non-combat roles, but the bulk of studies concern combat troops in the east.  Slap’s study examines the 3rd US Colored Heavy Artillery, which garrisoned Memphis, was recruited in large part from the community, and experienced a very high desertion rate.

Lunch was on our own, and here I lucked out.  I was lucky enough to have lunch with my friend Dr. Carol Reardon of Penn State.  I’ve known Dr. Reardon for about nine years, having attended conferences conducted by her through Penn State.  I correspond with her a good bit, especially when I need to know how real, live military historians do things.  We had a nice lunch at McGillin’s Olde Ale House, and she filled me in on what she’s been working on and what’s in the works for her in the future (she’s already done a stint at West Point, and will be a visiting professor at The Citadel for a year).

After lunch I cruised the book vendor booths set up on the second floor of the club.  All the big university presses were represented, offering 30% discounts.  I didn’t buy anything right then, opting to collect flyers – the discounts are available to attendees until the middle of July, and there was another day for shopping.  It was interesting to watch prospective authors pitch their ideas to the press reps.  I was surprised to learn that quite a few books start off in just this way.

The 4:30 panel I attended was one of the highlights of the conference.  John Coski of the Museum of the Confederacy chaired Challenges for Museums and Public History in the 21st Century.  Speakers were John Hennessy of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP, Paul Reber of Stratford Hall, and friend Dana Shoaf of Civil War Times and America’s Civil War magazines.  Hennessy’s paper, Devolution and Evolution: The Treatment of Civil War Battlefields in the Realm of Public History, covered the evolution of the NPS battlefields from their foundation in reconciliation to the current emphasis on telling the whole story of the Civil War including its causes.  On a Bull Run note, he pointed out that when the NPS accepted Manassas Battlefield from its then owners, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the SCV insisted that the NPS interpretation of the site did not detract from the glory due the Confederates.  Paul Reber’s Everyman His Own Historian Reconsidered addressed various forces that have resulted in steadily declining museum attendance.  But one of the best presentations of the conference was Dana Shoaf’s Popular is not a Dirty Word, or You too can Learn to Love Stories without Footnotes, and I’m not just saying that because he’s a friend.  You gotta love a talk on how academics can better reach a wider audience that starts out with a story about The Sex Pistols’ 1978 US tour and their manager, Malcolm McLaren, who booked the band into various less-than-friendly southern venues, explaining You must go where you need to go to convert the masses.  It was catchy and altogether fitting.  Dana made a fine point that recent scholarship challenging long held beliefs about the Civil War is not reaching the masses for various reasons, including an unwillingness of academics to publish work in popular magazines.  These magazines reach a massive audience because of their relatively low cost, their focus on military aspects (though social history is not unheard of), and the absence of end or footnotes, which many readers find off-putting – they interfere with the apsirational aspects of reading an article by making the reader feel less than knowledgeable.  I think Dana gave many in attendance food for thought.

At 4:30 a group of about 30-40 met for a tour of the Union League that was so cool I’m going to cover it in Part IV of this series.

After the tour, Dana, Tom, Angela and I walked around the corner to McGillan’s (again, for me) for dinner, a couple of cold beverages, and some great conversation.  We were back in plenty of time for the 7:30 roundtable on The State of Civil War Military History.  The panelists were Gary Gallagher, Joseph Glatthaar, Carol Reardon, and Joan Waugh.  One of the first things pointed out was the fact that the SCWH was formed in response to a lack of discussion of military history in the Southern Historical Association, which was followed by the observation that the program for this conference offered very little in the way of discussion of military history.  Here again I think the highlight of this session was the observations of a friend, Carol Reardon.  She spoke of some of the things we discussed that day at lunch, arguing that a reexamination of what was going on here in the US before and during the war along the lines of tactical, operational, and strategic military theory is in order.

After the roundtable, I retired to one of the club’s bars and enjoyed a few drinks with Dana, Tom, Angela and Lesley Gordon – other bigshots were seated nearby but I didn’t meet any of them.  I spoke briefly with Terry Beckenbaugh of the US Army Command and General Staff College, to whom Jeff Prushankin had introduced me earlier in the day.  Terry alluded to some guest blogging he may be doing at Civil Warriors in the near future.  I had freeloaded off of Dana for lunch, and ended up a deadbeat again at the bar because only member numbers or room numbers are accepted as payment.  So now I owe both Dana and the Clemenses.

Part I

Part III

Part IV

Society of (Mostly) Civil War Historians Part I

25 06 2008


Last week I attended the first biennial meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians (SCWH) in Philadelphia, at the historic, exclusive Union League.  Rather than bounce back and forth between the conference and the venue, and in the interest of brevity, I’ll write four separate articles: one on each day of the conference, and one on the Union League.

The meeting kicked off on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM; I showed up about five minutes after four, but the program in the club’s second floor Lincoln Hall had started on the dot.  By the way, the League’s dress code for guests is business casual from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with jackets required and ties preferred in the member’s only areas.  My uniform for the three days was collared silk shirts and khakis, so I was “in bounds”.  But while there were two or three other fellows who were similarly dressed, most of the male participants opted for jackets and ties.  So I felt a little conspicuous right off the bat.  That feeling would be exacerbated by frequent references by speakers to a commonality of academic experience between the presenters and the audience.  While I have an advanced degree, neither it nor my bachelor’s is in history.  There couldn’t have been more than a handful of similarly unlettered folks like me among the 200 or so in attendance (see here for my definition of a historian).  I was a fish out of water.

Like I said, I was about five minutes late, and the SCWH are apparently a punctual bunch.  Mark Neely of my alma mater, The Pennsylvania State University, had just begun his opening night address, “Reconsidering Nationalism in the American Civil War”.  One of the thrusts of his talk was that, in the North, rather than the press inciting nationalism in the populace in the early days of the crisis, it was the other way around, with rallies, arranged and impromptu, resulting from the actions of citizens.  In some cases, mobs descended upon newspaper offices to voice their opinions.  Taken with, among other things, Mark Grimsley’s writing recapped here, I’m scrapping my notions with regards to traditional interpretations of the influence of the press in the 1860’s.

A cocktail hour and buffet followed Neely’s talk, during which I ran into acquaintances Jeff Prushankin and Susannah Bruce and friends Carol Reardon and Tom Clemens of SHAF and his wife Angela.  Seeing Tom and Angela was a pleasant surprise indeed – we spent a good deal of time together over the three days.  I also met the Museum of the Confederacy’s John Coski, with whom I have corresponded before, and the former Executive Director of Jefferson Davis’ Beauvoir, Patrick Hotard.

The evening program was a roundtable discussion, “Beyond Inside War: New Perspectives on Guerilla Warfare”, with panelists Daniel Sutherland, John Inscoe, Paul Anderson and Michael Fellman.  This discussion focused on issues raised in Fellman’s Inside War: The Guerilla Conflict in Missouri during the Civil War.  In the end, Fellman disputed conclusions in Neely’s The Civil War and the Limits of Destruction and Grimsley’s The Hard Hand of War that Yankee “atrocities” were exceptions and that the North fought the war with restraint.  He was not gentle in his criticism of Neely’s work, though the author was sitting in the front row. 

After the session, I toured around the second floor with Tom and Angela, checking out some of the incredible artwork that decks the club’s walls.  We ran into Kevin Levin and his wife Michaela in the process.  I’d never met Kevin before and would run into him periodically during the conference, but never long enough to have a full fledged conversation.  After a visit to Tom and Angela’s room in the club to find out what had happened at the U.S. Open that day, I walked the six or so blocks to my friend’s townhome on Locust St., where I stayed while in town.

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Recap Soon

18 06 2008

I’m back from a most excellent adventure with the Society of Civil War Historians at the Union League in Philadelphia.  I saw some old friends and made some new acquaintances, all while having the time of my life, hob-knobbing in a ritzy joint, holding some artifacts I never thought I’d get within 20 feet of, and learning a lot.  But I have Cub Scout day camp to deal with the rest of the week, and baseball playoffs and work to catch up on over the weekend.  I’ll post a full summary of the conference next week.  Promise.

Hittin’ the Road

9 06 2008


This Friday, I’ll be starting off a long weekend of baseball and Civil War.  Friday’s stops will include the new VC at Monocacy National Battlefield, possibly the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, and a Frederick Keys game that evening (with manager Richie “The Gravedigger” Hebner).  Saturday I’ll head to Baltimore for the Inner Harbor and an interleague game between the Pirates and the Orioles (the Pirates of the Senior Circuit will give the game practiced in the American League a whirl – not really baseball since old guys who can’t field still get to play, but they use the same equipment).  On Sunday I’ll ride with a friend who lives in Center City to Philadelphia to attend the biennial meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians to be held through Tuesday at the Union League (see here): lots of big-wigs delivering lots of papers, some of them acquaintances and some of them friends.  I hope to spend a little time “touring” a spot that hosted hundreds, if not thousands, of Pennsylvania recruits during 1861-1865, McGillin’s Olde Ale House, the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philly.  It’s not far from the Union League, and I won’t be driving the whole time I’m in town!  I hope to see some of you there.

Society of Civil War Historians

7 01 2008


unionleague1.jpgToday I received confirmation that I am registered for the biennial meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians, to be held this coming June at the Union League in Philadelphia (see my photo at left).  Participation in the meeting is limited to members of the society, but membership in the society, according to their website, is limited to “anyone interested in the Civil War era”.  So I joined ($50, which gets me a subscription to Civil War History – which I already get – and the society’s newsletter) and registered for the meeting ($75).  But, you don’t have to be a member to attend the meeting ($100 without member discount).  Keep in mind attendees must abide by the Union League dress code.

guide.jpgI have some friends who are delivering papers at the meeting, and also have a good friend who lives within walking distance of the Union League, so this should be a fun and relatively inexpensive couple of days.  I hope to see some of you there.  If you’re planning on this being your first trip to Philly, or if you’re otherwise unfamiliar with the city’s rich Civil War heritage, I recommend Richard Sauers’s Guide to Civil War Philadelphia.