Saturday, February 11, 2017

Confederate Monument, Cynthiana, Ky

Two weeks ago,  I visited Battle Grove Cemetery in Cynthiana, Kentucky and finally was able to see the Confederate Monument and burial section. The monument is showing its age, but is still impressive, and the arrangement of headstones in a wide circle around it quickly caught my eye. It is visually striking, even beautiful.

Here are some pictures I took of this section. I will return to get other angles and to try to get a good image of the inscriptions on it, but thought I would share these shots for now, and throw in another plug to support the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation.

I had heard about this monument years ago, and am glad I finally made time to view it.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Post 600. Really?

I started working \on another post - which I may post later today, or perhaps in a day or two - and noticed that I have published 599 posts so far, so I decided to make this post to acknowledge post 600.

I started this blog in June of 2009, so it has been over 7 years, including a couple of long droughts without any posts, but I still think 600 is an impressive number. I certainly never realized I would blog for this long or make so many entries. I still may not make as many posts as I would ideally like to, but they are still fun to do. It feels great when I have a "voila!" moment and find something I want to post, even if it is just a link to a group I support or a reprint of an old newspaper article I find to be  interesting.

I do not do as many "editorial" type of opinion pieces as I expected to when I started this, but perhaps I will find a few more topics about which to pontificate here as this year rolls along.  I also want to do more reading again and post more book reviews. I am currently reading a good book and hope to finish it soon and offer my thoughts on it. Book reviews are pretty fun to write, though I admit that over the years I have read a couple of really bad books and I just do not review them. I do not want to be so critical in my reviews, though I will offer constructive criticisms in the reviews I do publish. Those other books I referenced  just did not have much good to review and I feel more comfortable just skipping them here.

Another thing that has come to mind is whether or not I want to change the design? I like the current look, especially all the blue color, but I have had this same look since late 2011, I believe, and I wonder if I want to change it. I changed it a few times in the first couple of years, but not recently. Do I want to change just to make a change, or just leave good enough alone? I don't know, but I'm sure I will think about it some more. Maybe I will make a change by June, when the anniversary of my first post here approaches.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Inauguration of President Lincoln, from the Youth's Companion

I just posted a story about a reaction to Lincoln's First Inaugural, so here is a look at some reaction to his Second Inaugural Address. This brief story is from the newspaper called the Youth's Companion, of March 9, 1865.This will likely be the last in my posts about the election/inaugural from the last few months.

It is a bit strange that this article does not mention the address Lincoln gave that March 4th day, but here is a link to his second inaugural, which some people consider Lincoln's greatest speech. The article did, however, manage to mention religious freedom.
On the last day of the past week a ceremony both grand and impressive took place at Washington. Pres. Lincoln was at noon of that day inaugurated as president of the United States for another term of four years. Amidst the applause of those assembled to witness the ceremony, he came forward and took the oath of office. This was administered to him by Chief Justice Chase, in a  manner that was deeply impressive. For the second time Mr. Lincoln swore to be true to the Constitution and the Union, to faithfully perform the duties of his  high office, and to protect religious liberty and laws throughout our land. Four years since he stood on the steps of the Capital to accept the same high trust. Then there were fears of disturbance, and threatenings from desperate, traitorous men, and many troops were called out to prevent violence and to protect the president. But he did not falter, nor did he hesitate boldly to proclaim what he intended to do for the preservation of the Union. And now that the four years of his first term have passed away he comes forward again to devote himself to the nation. He has honestly performed his duties during his term of office, and how thankful should we all be that we have had such a man at the head of affairs. May God bless Mr. Lincoln, and give him strength to carry on through the next four years of his office as faithfully as he had done hitherto. His position is one of great anxiety and care, and his duties are many and hard to bear. Let us all, then, pray that God will aid him in the performance of them, and the end of the coming four years will see us a happy, prosperous and peaceful people.

image courtesy

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Reaction to Lincoln's First Inaugural

I thought this article about Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, from 155 years ago was appropriate now.  It is from the Covington Journal of March 9, 1861.  

The Coercive Policy of the New Administration

The refusal of Mr. Lincoln to recognize the Southern movement as a revolution accomplished must inevitably involve the most deplorable results. It shuts out negotiation, and thus precludes all hope of amicable adjustment.

Now, whether Mr. Lincoln chooses to recognize the fact or not it is nevertheless true that seven sovereign States have severed their connection with the federal Union. They have not only declared their independence but have formed a confederacy of their own, elected a President and Vice President, appointed civil and military offices, and, in short, have assumed all the duties and responsibilities of an independent government. That the people of the Confederate States are in earnest cannot be doubted; that they have the ability to maintain their position admits of little doubt. Mr. Lincoln says they are not out of the Union and are subject to the laws of the United States. They say they are independent of the old Union, and have laws of their own for their government. Mr. Lincoln will undertake to enforce the laws. There is now but one way to do that, and that is at the point of the bayonet. The Confederate States will resist force by force. War follows, and after the expenditure of thousands of lives and millions of treasure, we come back to the starting point, and must settle the question by negotiation. 

Would it be better for the United States government at once to act upon the indisputable truth that freed governments are based upon the "consent of the governed," and acknowledging that the Southern government is beyond its control, treat with the authorities of the Confederate States for an amicable adjustment of all perplexing questions? 


The author used words and phrases like "revolution accomplished" and certainly took a pro-Southern view in claiming that the declarations of secession were enough to separate those states from the federal government, as though the administration should just take their words for it and not try to resist the breakup of the country. President Lincoln certainly proved to be more strong-willed than this author.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Introducing the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation

2nd Battle of Cynthiana
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have joined a new group and will serve as secretary for it, the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation.  (Click on that link for the group's website. You can also visit our Facebook page right here.) Memberships are already available through the website, with several options available, including a "Founders" level during 2017. Please consider signing up to support us. Other ways to help or become involved are also listed on the website.

This group will focus on publicizing and interpreting and the battles of Cynthiana and, hopefully, even preserving  the land where they took place. These battles were important to the Civil War in Kentucky, yet are not very well-known. We want to help change that and help others understand what took place on this ground and how it fits in the story of the war, nationally and locally. We as an organization are just getting started but are preparing to do what we can to bring attention to the fighting that occurred in and around this town. We do have become  meeting coming up soon and I'm sure we'll start making more  plans for 2017 and even beyond.

It is less than a year old, having been born in the spring of 2016. I learned of it a couple of months later and decided to become involved in it and see if I could contribute.

Exactly how and why this opportunity came to  my attention, I do not know. Location - it's about a one-hour drive from my house - is certainly important. If this was much further away, would I make the effort to be this involved? I don't know. I do know that I am very interested in Kentucky's role in the war, so this fits in extremely well with that interest. Being so close to home only increases that.

The green star marks the location of Cynthiana

Also, the involvement of Darryl Smith, operator of Walking With History, publisher of the Ohio at Perryville blog and whom I have met on various tours at Perryville impressed me. I'm certain he was the one who posted about it somewhere. Had I not read about it and found out it existed, I, of course, could  not have joined it. 

I also think my lack of great knowledge in the battles helped influence me to get involved. I knew of the battles and of the involvement of famous (perhaps legendary) Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, but this seemed like a good opportunity for personal growth in my knowledge and obsession about the Civil War.  I.have read a little bit about it since my involvement began (here is one very quick rundown of the contests), but still need to do much more. One book on my to-read list for this year is  Kentucky Rebel Town: The Civil War Battles of Cynthiana and Harrison County, by Bill Penn, who is also involved in the group. I've heard good things about this book and look forward to reading it for myself.

John Hunt Morgan
Another fascinating part of this was the idea of being involved at the very beginning of such a group. I have worked with a couple other historical organizations, but they were well-established before I started volunteering, so this is a potentially new experience for me. It's kind of exciting, but also makes me a bit nervous about trying to get this off the ground, as though I have more responsibility than with the other, older groups.

Please continue to watch our web and Facebook pages for further updates. I'll try to post about it here as well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What will 2017 bring?

Yes, another post. Finally.

I am still here and thought the new year would be a good time to post again.

In 2016, my goal was to make at least one post per week. I actually kept that goal for most of the year,  but when I got a new job in August, my time to blog simply slipped away.

I am still at that job as 2017 begins and though I want to resume posting more regularly, I do not want to promise more than I deliver, so I am not setting any specific goals for this year. I will have to see how my time goes and how I adapt to my schedule.

I am currently reading another Civil War book, so I do want to finish it and offer a review. I have a few other books that I would like to read and review as well.

I am getting involved in a new local Civil War group and hope to offer updates on it right here. We have had a couple start-up meetings and have some big goals.  Our website is now open to the public at  I am excited to be involved with the beginning of such an organization and am anxious to see how it progresses. It has a great purpose and will fill a need, especially in Kentucky. My next post will likely be about it. 

I also plan at least one trip to Perryville (I still really hate that I did not make it to last October's re-enactment) and, hopefully at least one other Civil War site in Kentucky, whether it is Richmond, Mill Springs or another. Trips like those always provide good blog content and give me better perspective on what such sires represent. I hope I can schedule multiple trips this year.

I do have a couple projects I started researching and writing last year. Perhaps I can finish them this year, though I will have to double check for new information that might have shown up since I started them. 

I am also still involved at the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum and will try to post more about it this year.  Last year, I spearheaded a display of many Civil War flags, Union and Confederate. I was proud of it, as many people are not aware of several of these standards. 

I am honestly amazed that I have had this blog since 2009.  How has so much time passed so quickly? I know I have had some gaps in posting, but here I still am. It has truly been a fascinating project for me.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Commentary on Election Results, 1860 Style

Unhappiness with the results of a Presidential election is nothing new - far from it, in fact - and current discussions of divisiveness and how the country will face the consequences of electoral results are also not recent creations.

Here is an article from the Covington (Ky) Journal about the 1860 Presidential election, this time with commentary about the results of that contest. This story is from November 10, 1860.

I find it interesting, even disappointing, that this story associated Abraham Lincoln with the famous "irrepressible conflict" statement, since that comment was from William Henry Seward, not Lincoln. Lincoln's most controversial prewar statement was his 1858 declaration that "a house divided against itself cannot stand" and that the nation could not long maintain a split of slave and free states, but the writer apparently did not realize that.

Lincoln also served multiple terms in the Illinois legislature, not just one as this story suggests. (Also, his "spot resolutions" in Congress were somewhat memorable, though not in a good way for him.)

The Result
Tuesday last witnessed for the first time in a contest for the Presidency a triumph of a purely sectional party.

Lincoln and Hamlin, the Republican nominees, are elected  President and Vice-President of the United States. They are Northern men; they represent Northern principles, and they are elected by Northern votes exclusively.

Neither in Mr. Lincoln nor the party he represents do we see anything to alley the fears created by this sectional triumph.

Lincoln was made known to the people outside his own State by a contest with Douglas for a seat in the Senate of the U.S. The content just closed has brought to light these facts: That he has split rails; and that he is regarded as an honest man by his neighbors. Upon these barren considerations his election to the Presidency has been urged. If he possesses any other merit or claim his friends have failed to inform the country of it. He has served a session in the Legislature of his State and a term in Congress. It is his misfortune that as a Legislator he never said or did anything worth remembering.

He had, however, as an individual, given countenance to the infamous sentiment that there is an irrepressible sectional conflict. There is of necessity no such conflict; but a fearful conflict may be created by a President who believes there is or ought to be such a conflict.

If we look at the party that has placed "Old Abe" in power, the prospect is not less discouraging. It is composed of men holding all shades of opinion but bound together by a common feeling of hostility to the institutions of the South. This feeling, we fear, is not only spreading but becoming more intense. In this feeling the John Brown raid had its origin; this feeling leads to disregard of the Constitution and the nullification of laws of Congress. This feeling is the more dangerous because it is based upon prejudice and thrives by misrepresentation. Thousands of demagogues scattered over the North have an interest in keeping this feeling alive. It is the hobby upon which they hope to ride into office.


It is ironic that the writer claimed the feelings of the North were based in prejudice and that they practiced "nullification" disregarding of Constitutional laws (and it does fit in with recent debates about  prejudices or criminal accusations.) It was, of course, in South Carolina where the concept of "nullification" became popular in the early 1800s and it is difficult to imagine supporters of slavery referring to the "prejudice"'of others without pondering their own views. The suspicion of ulterior motives on the part of the winning candidate is another similarity to the current situation, though I also must wonder if modern political commentators are any more accurate than this writer.  (I do admit a hint of presentism may have influenced my comments on the idea of prejudice.)

Many people on the losing side in this race went on to support secession and the attempt to create a new nation based on their disappointment in the election's outcome, leading, of course, to the long, costly and bloody Civil War. What, if anything, will current protests and dissatisfaction bring to this nation? Will time see things settle down?