Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review: Storm over Texas by Joel H. Silbey

Oxford University Press
Pivotal Moments in American History series

In this book, author Joel Silbey claims that the long-running controversy over whether or not to bring the republic of Texas into the United States was a key point on the path to the Civil War.

The author clearly researched this book very well and he provides many quotes and evidence to support his arguments about the effects this controversy produced.

He does not claim that the arguments over Texas immediately led to an inevitable Civil War, but, rather, shows how it began the process that led to war, perhaps like a small chip in a windshield that can lead to worsening problems over time. He explains how the disputes over Texas affected the workings of American political parties and how partisan politics gradually shifted to a more "sectional" political reality thanks in part to this controversy.

Though this book concerns political events, it also describes the American political system of the era, which relied on two major political parties (Democrat and Whig) to define and debate issues. Sectionalism had popped up occasionally before The Texas issue, but had always calmed back down letting political debate remain set along partisan lines, a tradition that started to change with the dispute over Texas.

The author does an outstanding job of showing the inter- and intra-party workings of this system, particularly of the Democrats and how these workings started slowly evolving during and after after the Texas controversy. It was within the Democratic party where the first signs of the effects of the Texas issue began to become evident in 1844 and 1845 and where sectionalism began to grow and seep outward. 

Politicians like Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James Polk and John C. Calhoun all played prominent roles as this drama slowly unfolded, such as Van Buren and his supporters growing disenchanted with Polk, leading to disputes within the Democratic Party and Van Buren becoming a Free Soil Party candidate. Calhoun, meanwhile contributed greatly to the reappearance and growth of sectionalism.

Additional events after the annexation - starting with the debates over the Wilmot Proviso and continuing with issues such as the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Preston Brooks' attack on Charles Sumner, Bleeding Kansas and the Dred Scott decision - continued the path that annexation had started, resulting in secession after the 1860 Presidential election. The Kansas-Nebraska act comes across as the one event that provoked a quick and strong reaction, but even it was only building on feelings, disagreements and changes that had sprouted up after the debate over Texas.

This is a good book, very informative, especially on how the political system and parties worked and how the annexation of Texas affected them. The author's writing flows fairly well, making this book a good read.  Sibley provides much evidence from many sources to support his points and he weaves many different quotes into his narrative in a fine, readable fashion. His work provides a fine perspective on American politics in the years before the Civil War and how, with a blow from the debate over Texas, the chip in the American windshield led to a full fracture in April 1861.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Evergreen Cemetery (Southgate, Ky) in Need of Assistance

Evergreen Cemetery is an old cemetery in Southgate, Campbell County, Kentucky, having its first burial in 1849. It is the largest cemetery in the county, with tens of thousands of burials. It is a neat cemetery to walk through, with many old monuments and headstones, though the hills are a bit of a challenge at times.

Unfortunately, it is need of help as the following release shows. Underneath it, I have attached a couple of links with more information on Evergreen, and a couple of pictures I took of the plot for soldiers in the United States Army during the Civil War. One shows a list of burials in the plot, created by  a Boy Scout troop a couple years ago and another shows the entire plot. Among soldiers buried there are William Horsfall, who received the Medal of Honor as a 14-year-old and Augustus Seither, who had two brothers fight for the United States (as he did) and another for the Confederacy. Confederate General George B. Hodge is also buried in the cemetery, though not in the same area as the Union soldiers.

Non-Civil War notables buried there include George Wiedemann of Wiedemann Beer brewing fame and General James Taylor, who had founded Newport, Ky., and had provided land for the Newport Barracks

Evergreen Cemetery seeks funds to repair roads
The Board of Directors of historic Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate, Kentucky, is seeking help from the community to improve the roads within the cemetery.
The cemetery was founded in 1847 and is the location of approximately 65,000 burials.  It is also the site of Shaler Battery, an encampment built during the Civil War by the Black Brigade.
The cemetery spans 400 acres of land and has eight total miles of roadway.  Some of the roads are in disrepair and in need of immediate attention.  The estimate for repairing all areas is $850,000 (estimated at between $75,000-$85,000 per mile).  This figure is out of the reach of the current budget of this not-for-profit cemetery.
The Board of Directors is reaching out to the greater Cincinnati area for financial donations toward this effort.   Donations from local businesses, churches, community leaders and private citizens are welcome.  All donations to the cemetery are tax-deductible.  Every dollar donated will contribute to a span of roadway receiving needed repairs.
In 2014, the Board of Directors formed the Friends of Evergreen Cemetery volunteer organization to initiate and oversee various projects that will restore and revitalize Evergreen Cemetery.   If you are interested in donating your time and talent to the Friends organization, please call Andrea Janovic at (859) 391-7218.  You can also friend the “Friends of Evergreen Cemetery – Southgate, Ky” Facebook page to stay current on news and events relating to the cemetery.
The next meeting of the Friends of Evergreen Cemetery will be held on August 27that 7:00 p.m. at the Ft. Thomas Antiques & Design Center at 90 Alexandria Pike, Ft. Thomas, Kentucky.  Call Andrea Janovic at (859) 391-7218 for further details.

Here is a link with more information on the cemetery's history and here are some pictures I took of the plot and the headstones in it.

List of graves in Union Soldiers' Plot

Headstones in Union Soldiers' Plot

Friday, August 21, 2015

Quick Review of Battery Hooper Days 2015

Battery Hooper Days 2015 at the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum where I volunteer has, incredibly, already come and passed, last weekend. It was a great event. The weather was terrific - a bit warm and muggy, but not too bad for August.(I make no claims of objectivity - I help plan and run the event and museum and am willing use this blog platform to promote it - but I was happy with it, as were the other museum directors.)

Our living historians, presenters and re-enactors did a wonderful job. The talks were fun and interesting and kept the visitors entertained both days.They also were fantastic in interacting with the public. That helps educate people about the war and also makes an event better for the visitors. It is, perhaps, the most important part of successful living history, at least after accuracy send knowledge anyway. We really appreciate those who spent their weekend at our event. The addition of a U.S. Grant impression worked out very well.

The encampment, with the medical tent set-up and quite a few re-enactors, was a fun place to visit. It is always fun to see the tents, rifles and other equipment on display. Along with the variety of uniforms.

The dulcimer music and wool spinning demonstration inside the museum on Sunday were both popular and added greatly to the atmosphere inside, as guests kept funneling through the museum. Having inquisitive children visit added to the success. It was great to see them so interested and I know the lady spinning the wool really enjoyed it. I'd like to think every visitor learns something at an event like this, but I know those few children did. That is a large part of why museums exist and events like this are held.

Our expanded used book sale was a tremendous success, and will go a long way in helping us financially, especially as we work toward some physical improvements to the museum building. We were fortunate enough to receive a large donation of books earlier this year, and that helped us immensely. 

We were also fortunate to have multiple sponsorships and donors that helped us quite a bit this year. St. Elizabeth Healthcare, K & V Cultural Resources Management LLC, and the Courtyard by Marriott in Florence all came through for us and the bequest of books from the Michael Wilson family was very valuable. Thank you to each sponsor and donor.

Attendance was slightly down, but we still had over 800 people in over the weekend and the feedback we received was positive. It was held a week earlier the year and a couple other big events were taking place the same weekend, so we did have quite a bit off competition. Still, all that we could control - the advertising, promotion and the actual event itself - went well.

I did not get to take a lot of photos, unfortunately, but here are a couple I managed to snap early Sunday.

It will be interesting to see what new displays or presenters we find for next year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Then and Now: Bad Hair Days

No political statement here, just s fun look at  a couple of politicians with "interesting" hair days.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Abraham Lincoln, Englishman?

I am still working on a post (or two) about the Abraham Lincoln statue in Lytle Park in Cincinnati and came across this article. It certainly provides information to help my story, but goes far beyond what I need and delves into an interesting view on British memory and perception of Abraham Lincoln during the  era of the World Wars.

This story is really interesting. I have learned about the concept of historical memory in the lad few years since joining the blogosphere, but seeing English views on an American President was new, and quite fascinating, for me. It describes the "cult" of Abraham Lincoln in England, and how some people, in politics and popular culture, tried to use his family history and beliefs as well as English political tradition to portray him as a product of Englandand to create a common bond between the two nations in the first half of the twentieth century., especially during the war years.

It is definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Battery Hooper Days 2015

The James A. Ramage Civil War Museum, at 1402 Highland Ave. Ft. Wright KY., celebrates its 10th anniversary with its annual Battery Hooper Civil War Days August 15-16, 2015, from 12-6 on Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday.

Admission is free.

Free Parking  is available at Community of Faith Presbyterian Church next door, and the church will also have food and drinks available for purchase. Golf carts are available to shuttle guests from the parking lot to the displays.

Cannons fire at noon and closing each day and several times throughout  the day, approximately at the top of each hour. Your children can enjoy activities like Honey Hill Petting Zoo, face painting and our playground. 

Watch Theodore R. Davis (a.k.a. Jim Hoffman), Special Artist, Harper's Weekly newspaper draw and you can even take one of his paintings home. Enjoy the colors of a collection of Civil War era flags and learn each one's history. Listen while Civil War soldiers demonstration horse riding techniques and firing muskets. Witness their camp life.  Learn techniques for making women’s clothes during the mid 1800’s 

Thanks to our generous sponsor, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, you can walk through a complete Civil War field hospital. This includes surgery demonstrations, outdoor cooking, hospital laundry, 8 bed hospital ward and hospital steward (combines the functions of pharmacist, nursing, administration and assisting surgery).  Civil War reproduction uniforms, equipment, books and other objects can be purchased at our Civil War Sutler (merchant).

Located on the grounds of Battery Hooper Park, the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum will be open free to the public. Among the exhibits is a life mask of President Lincoln, made from a casting of his face during his Presidency.  New exhibits this year include art work by Gen. Lew Wallace from the Lincoln Assassination Trial and Andersonville Prison Trial, a Civil War train diorama by Lawrence Goodridge (Goodridge Design), artifacts from the Gen. Lew Wallace Study and Museum, art concerning Lee's surrender and more.  

While in the museum, stroll through the Fort Wright room to walk back in time to learn the history of the City of Fort Wright.  Fern Storer was the owner of the house and her kitchen has been left much as it was when she lived here experimenting with cooking while working as the food editor of the Cincinnati Post years agoOther rooms exhibit such artifacts as Civil War muskets, swords, cannon balls, medical equipment, documents and special exhibits to quench your curiosity.

Wander down to the museum basement bookstore for used books of all interests including but not limited to children's, cooking, fiction, reference and hundreds of history and Civil War books (many from a recently acquired large private collection).  All purchases go toward supporting the Museum.  

The museum gift shop will be outdoors in the shelter house nearest the museum, while the other shelter house houses exhibits from preservation, genealogical and patriotic societies such as the Kenton County Historical Society and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War just to name a few.   

An archeological exhibit will be next to the remnants of the fortifications of Battery Hooper.

Organizations participating include the Mid States Living History Association, the Fifth Ohio Light 
Artillery, the 10th Kentucky Calvary, the 9th Kentucky infantry (CSA), the 6th Ohio Infantry (USA), 
Confederate Marines, the Ladies Living History Society, the Western Female Seminary and others.

THANK YOU to all of our sponsors and donors.  At the time of this writing these include:
  • Michael Wilson bequest (book collection)
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare
  • K&V Cultural Resources Management LLC 
  • Courtyard by Marriott - Florence Ky. 
  • John Johannamann
  • Linda Hornsby
  • Jeannine Kreinbrink
  • Richard Foy 
  • Anonymous donors  
Thanks to our generous sponsors, the Ramage Museum is offering these professional speakers free to the public. Cannon firing demonstrations will take place between presentations throughout the day

Speaker Schedule (times approximate)

Saturday, Aug. 15
12:00 PM   Opening remarks by Ramage Museum President Jeanine Kreinbrink 
12:15 PM - 12:45 PM Durbin Ward (Tom Kreidler)
1:00 PM -  1:30 PM Civil War Hospitals (Nancy Eckerman)
1:45 PM -  2:15 PM Gen. Grant (Barry Meadows)
2:30 PM  - 3:30 PM Lincoln Assassination and Andersonville Trials of Gen. Lew Wallace (Bernie O’Bryan)
3:45PM   - 5:00 PM  Presidential Debate Lincoln (Stanley A. Wernz) versus Confederate President Davis (David Walker) 

Sunday, Aug. 16
12:00 PM    Opening remarks by Ramage Museum President Jeannine Kreinbrink (who appears in the new film: "Lew Wallace: Shiloh Scapegoat, Ben-Hur Bard" (2016)
12:15 PM -12:45 PM General Wright (Tom Kreidler, historian, museum volunteer and Vietnam veteran officer)
1:00 PM -  1:30 PM Civil War Hospitals (Nancy Eckerman)
1:45 PM -  2:15 PM Gen. Grant (Barry Meadows)
2:30 PM  - 3:30 PM Lincoln Assassination and Andersonville Trials of Gen. Lew Wallace (Bernie O’Bryan)
3:45PM   - 5:00 PM  Presidential Debate Lincoln (Stanley A. Wernz) versus Confederate President Davis (David Walker) 

Biography of our speakers:
Jeannine Kreinbrink, President of the Ramage Museum board, archeologist, writer, speaker, college professor who appears in the new film: "Lew Wallace: Shiloh Scapegoat, Ben-Hur Bard" (2016) in a scene shot in the J. A. Ramage Museum.
Nancy P. Eckerman, author of many works including:   "Indiana in the Civil War: Doctors, Hospitals and Medical Care" and reviewer of the book: Chimborazo: The Confederacy's Largest Hospital" and the retired Librarian  for the Ruth Lilly  Medical Library)
Tom Kreidler (Ward and Wright), lecturer, historian, Veteran Officer in the Vietnam War and teacher and one of the most active J. A. Ramage museum volunteers and advocates.
Barry Meadows (General/President Grant)  he took up playing Grant on film and stage because he was told he resembled Grant so closely.
Stanley A. Wernz (USA President Lincoln) is the President of the Association of Lincoln Presenters, and a retired teacher.
David Walker (Confederate President Davis) is an historian and teacher.
Bernie O'Bryan, plays Gen. Wallace in the film "Lew Wallace: Shiloh Scapegoat, Ben-Hur Bard" (2016) and has appeared on stage and screen in many other roles as well as a board member of the Ramage Museum and writer.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Camp Nelson Preservation News

This article provides some good preservation news this weekend.

Camp Nelson  was a Union supply depot during the Civil War and became the third largest recruiting depot for African-American soldiers for the Union army.  Only Louisiana provided more African-American soldiers to the Union army than Kentucky.

It also served as a refugee camp for African-Americans, many of whom were the family members of the soldiers.

I also find it interesting to see the mention of the idea of making it a national park, similar to the recent suggestion about Perryville.

I have been to Camp Nelson National Cemetery,but not to Camp Nelson itself. I will have to change that. (I also need to visit the Richmond Battlefield, not terribly far from Camp Nelson. Perhaps a day trip to visit both would be a good idea.)