Thursday, October 8, 2015

Some Perryville Sources

Today  is the 153rd anniversary of my favorite Civil War battle, the bloody fight at Perryville, which went a long way towards keeping Kentucky under the United States' control. The Confederacy perhaps won a tactical victory in the small town, but its army abandoned the battlefield the next day, retreating to Tennessee. This ended the invasion of Kentcky (sometimes called "Bragg's Invasion of Kentucky")' the last major invasion of this border state ((though some smaller raids would follow in the years to come, notably by John Hunt Morgan.)

I have found several good books and sources on this battle and though i am sure there are others I have missed, I will list my favorites here. (I will gladly take suggestions for others though.)

First, here are some good books about the battle.

Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle By Kenneth Noe is a very good book, perhaps the definitive account of the battle. It is one I want to read again.

Stuart Sanders has written two fine books about this fight. One is Maney's Confederate Brigade at Perryville . I read this just after a trip to the battlefield, so the names and places were fresh in my mind. That was great - and lucky - timing on my part. It is a very good and quick read about this part of the battle and would be a good book to read right before a trip to the site.

His other work is Perryville Under Fire: The Aftermath of Kntucky's Largest Civil War Battle. This is a fascinating look at how this battle affected the small town of Perryville as well as many of the other surrounding towns and rural areas near Perryville in the weeks and months after the terrible event.

The Civil War at Perryville: Battling for the Bluegrass by Christopher Kolakowski is a good book about the battle, shorter than Noe's, but very helpful and a quick, easy read. It would be another fine choice to use right before a visit to the field.

Company Aytch by Sam Watkins is a really enjoyable read and includes a good section on Perryville.  Some of the more famous quotes about this battle came from ?Watkins' story.

Of course, the web also provides many resources, as a quick Google search will show. Here are the ones I haves used and recommend.

One great website is at Battle of It provides a really detailed view of the battle, the campaign and pictures of the barttlefield, as well as a list of other sources and information. It is a very informative snd helpful site if you want to read or research the battle online. This would be a great starting point.

The battlefield's official site does a fine job of updating current events, programs and information about the park and museum. It is a good resource to check before taking a trip to the park.

Perryville Battlefield is part of the Kentucky State Parks system and the parks' website for this historic site is here with good current information about park hours and directions.  Here is a direct link to the park system's map of the battlefield and surrounding land.

The Friends of Perryville is a wonderful organization working to help out the park, as such sites are not a high priority in the state's budget. Their site focuses on activities they sponsor and  on ways they are trying to help support the park. They also have a Facebook page to update ongoing events.

Also available is a database of casualties at Perryville, a valuable resource and the product of a lot f work.

The Ohio at Perryville blog provides good updates on events at the park, especially the annual walking tour, as well as information on Ohio units at the battle snd other interesting information.

 The Civil War Trust's battle page includes a summary and couple other nice stories about the battle and the National Park Service's brief summary page also is helpful for a quick overview.

I know there are more great resources out there, including a couple of books who focus on the overall  Civil War in Kentucky, but these are ones have read or used and find especially enjoyable and informative. I make sure I keep these on my bookshelf or saved in my list of bookmarks.

If you know of any others I should know about, please share them in the comments.

Photo from a trip to the battlefield

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jefferson C. Davis' Murder of William "Bull" Nelson

153 years ago today, on September 29, 1862, the United States General who had the unfortunate name of Jefferson C. Davis shot and killed fellow general (and native Kentuckian) William "Bull" Nelson in a Louisville hotel. Here is a post I wrote a few years ago about it as well as a list of sources I consulted for it. It is an interesting story perhaps one I should read about again to see if there any more recent theories on how Davis escaped unpunished.

Illustration of the murder

General J. Davis

  General Wm. Bull Nelson

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

RIP, Yogi Berra

This obituary is a really good read about a man with an amazing career and legendary reputation. I am a Johnny Bench fan - he's my favorite athlete and his home run on Johnny Bench Night is my favorite "in-person" sports moment - and think he was the greatest catcher ever, but, if not him, it may have been Yogi. He was a great player and manager and perhaps the ultimate winner in baseball, with many World Series Championships and pennants. His was truly a remarkable career and here is one more fine article about it.

I know that comparing modern day people to Abraham Lincoln or wondering "WWALD" (what would Abraham Lincoln do?) is nothing if not a cliché and I try to avoid resorting to it, but as a baseball fan I will go through with it anyway.

I can see possible comparisons between the lives of "Yogi" and "Honest Abe" due to less than ideal childhoods and education and how others thought them physically unattractive or underestimated their intelligence and abilities, but my main curiosity is about the similarities in how they are often remembered for their quotations and, perhaps more frequently, supposed quotes.  Which one is  quoted (or misquoted) more often? I guess it s the ex-President just due to the length of time since his life, but Yogi has a lot of humorous quotes, a.k.a "Yogi-isms" attributed to him, though, like with Lincoln, many may be apocryphal. What was funnier - Lincoln's stories and jokes or Yogi's malaprops? How did such quotes contribute to their images - Lincoln  as a story-telling country hick then a wise statesman, the "Great Emancipator" and Yogi as a seeming simpleton, who later became viewed almost as a wise-old baseball philosopher. Is there a lesson in historical memory in these questions or comparisons, or am I completely off-track? Even in the "modern" world of specific reporting for sports and athletes, as well as recorded interviews, exactly what Yogi may or may not have said is still uncertain. Perhaps, though, that uncertainty just adds to his legend much like Lincoln's repurpose ion for story and joke telling contributes to his reputation.

I, of course, cannot compose such a post without some well-known internet memes touching on this subject. That just wouldn't be right. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Black Brigade of Cincinnati

William Martin Dickson, in charge of the Black Brigade, courtesy

It would not be September if I did not make at least one post discussing some aspect of the Siege of Cincinnati of September 1862. One of the more interesting aspects of it was the creation of the Black Brigade of Cincinnati. This link came up in my Facebook memories a couple days ago and I thought it was worth sharing again, with a bit more discussion of it then I had gone before.

This booklet is very informative and interesting reading. It seems to repeat the same information a bit as some of what it describes at the start seems to be taken from William Martin Dickson's report, which it prints in its entirety. The writer was obviously sympathetic towards the men, especially regarding Cincinnati's racial climate and the issues it caused for them, so it may not be the most objective viewpoint. Also, Dickson probably prepared his report his own self-interests in mind and to present himself in the best light, like many officers did. He did not write it until almost 18 months after the siege occurred, so questions of his memory (or of how thorough his existing notes were) of the exact details are probably fair as well.

With that said, this still is a valuable resource, providing a fairly timely perspective (2 years after the brigade's creation and while the war was ongoing - perhaps some of the details are not exact, but the main narrative should be reliable) on the existence of this group, particularly in describing the areas where they worked and some of the challenges the men faced, such as being impressed by the white troops or a near friendly-fire incident. I have seen this group mentioned occasionally in period newspapers, but not very often, and since they were not a government-sanctioned military body, like later regiments of African-American soldiers, and only together temporarily for a local emergency, they were not a frequent part of official military records besides Dickson's. That makes this booklet even more valuable.

It mentioned there were few disciplinary issues, but did not offer any specifics. The local Cincinnati Enquirer helps here with a brief mention on September 5, 1862, in its  "Newport News" (referring to news in Newport, Ky.) section: "Deserters - A couple of members of the “negro brigade” deserted yesterday, but were subsequently captured and lodged in jail"

All of this occurred before even the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued and before the United States allowed African Americans to enlist as soldiers, so it was a progressive step, especially in a city so close to the south and slavery as Cincinnati. The men were not permitted to take up arms, had to face poor treatment when trying to volunteer and even from some of their white colleagues, but they were paid, even the same amount as white laborers by the time their service ended. It certainly did not end discrimination or slavery but was an early example of the willingness and ability of African-Americans to help defend their homes and face potentially dangerous situations.

The immediate Cincinnati area did not experience a major battle during the Civil War. The "Siege of Cincinnati" was the closest it came to such, along with John Hunt Morgan's "Great Raid" of 1863. The siege was a major threat to this important trading city, the 6th largest in the country at the time. During the War, Cincinnati provided storage for supplies like tents and food, and even had a ship-building industry along the river. A couple minor skirmishes took place, but the quick gathering of tens of thousands of local militia, including the Black Brigade, to build and man a series of batteries and fortifications in Northern Kentucky helped prevent any major fighting.(Ironically, most of the defenses of 
Cincinnati were actually in Northern Kentucky, much like the current "Greater Cincinnati" airport is.)

The Black Brigade has received more recognition in recent years, including a statue dedicated along the riverfront a few years ago and occasional newspaper mentions. The existence of the National Underground Railroad Museum (aka the "Freedom Center") has helped as well. Hopefully it's contributions will continue to gain recognition for the loyalty and bravery of its men. It is certainly a tale worth reading, remembering and sharing. Perhaps future studies will uncover more of their story and maybe I will be able to share this'd discoveries too.

Black Brigade statue, Cincinnati, courtesy

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bibliography for Series on Barnard's Lincoln Statue

Part one
Part two
Part three

As I researched and wrote whst became three separate posts on this statue, I found a lot of information about It and its controversies, much more than I expected. At this point, I have to wonder if I was the last person to realize the firestorm this monument caused. 

I decided not to use endnotes since this was a blog entry, but, in hindsight, perhaps I should have once it became so long. Most of these sources are already linked and/or mentioned in the posts about this statue, but here are the various sources from which I gathered information for my story. Some of these have other details that I did not use.

In addition to Percoco's book, the article by Adam I.P. Smith is especially fascinating. It helped me quite a bit, but also goes well beyond what I needed for my story. It  is an interesting look at Lincoln's memory and image from an English perspective. I highly recommend it.

Summers with Lincoln: Looking for the Man in the Monuments, James A. Percocco, 2009, Fordham University Press
The Barnard LincolnThe American Architect, October 31, 1917

George Grey Barnard's Controversial Lincoln, Harold E. Dickson, Art Journal Vol. 27, Number 1, Autumn 1967

George Bernard Grey's Lincoln Statue in Louisville, Kentucky Historical Society 

The Taft Influence: How One Cincinnati Family Impacted UC
and the City, State Nation UC Magazine April 2013

The 'Cult' of Abraham Lincoln and the Strange Survival of Liberal England in the Era of the World Wars, Adam I.P. Smith, Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 21, Number 4, 2010
Barnard Biography

Abraham Lincoln online

George Grey Barnard Statue of Abraham Lincoln - Manchester, U.K.

Frederick Alms information (I know the man who wrote this entry and trust its accuracy.)

Edward Colston information

Cincinnati Enquirer, 1910-1918, from newspaper database at Kenton County Public Library 

Additional helpful information

In addition to the Tafts, the Lytle family was also an old and well-known Cincinnati family, including poet and Civil War General William Haines Lytle. The family name remains around town on Lytle Park (home also of the Taft Museum), Lytle Tunnel, Lytle Tower and One Lytle Place apartment building.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The George Grey Barnard Statue of Abraham Lincoln: Conclusion

This is the final installment in the series about this statue. See also  part one and part two.

Even with the decision to send a duplicate of Saint-Gaudens' statue to London finalized, the Taft family, who had commissioned Barnard's work, had other plans. The Tafts decided to offer a second casting of this monument to another English city, Manchester. Believing that an image of a "rough-hewn" man would fit well in that working-class city, and that it would be an appropriate location for a gift after it had supported the Union cause during the Civil War, (even during the cotton shortage that hurt local textile mills), Manchester accepted the gift. According to Adam I.P. Smith's article, a Manchester newspaper opined: "London, in posessing the St. Gaudens statue, will have Lincoln the President; Manchester has Lincoln the man." British author H.S. Perris thought highly of Lincoln and believed Barnard's statue would benefit humanity while giving the English people "a great lesson in Democracy," but even this was was not acceptable to at least one newspaper writer who preferred a figure of the "statesman" who had freed the slaves, who lived large in history and who should be remembered instead of the "awkward, stumbling" individual presented by Barnard. 

Manchester displayed this new monument in Platt Fields but when it was moved to the central section of the city,min what is now known as "Lincoln Square" in 1986, controversy arose when some of the text on it he statue's base, taken from a Lincoln letter to Manchester, was changed to say "working people" in place of "working men."

Lincoln statue, current location in Manchester, courtesy

Another copy of Barnard's statue eventually arrived in Louisville, Kentucky, where it was called "gloriously ugly and at the same time touchingly pathetic." That phrase apparently came from someone who liked the monument.

Lincoln statue in Louisville, "standing on water"during 1937 flood, courtesy

Today the original statue still stands near the central business district of Cincinnati, but it is a hidden secret. I worked near it for years before finding out it was there and have only visited it a few times. Perhaps this would be different if the city had followed Barnard's suggestion of putting the statue near the Tyler Davidson Fountain, the city's signature landmark, on Fountain Square, still a heavily visited center-of-downtown spot. Apparently the idea of trying to squeeze another monument into that area was one that went nowhere and the statue ended up in Lytle Park, near the house where Charles Taft lived (now the Taft Museum of Art.)

In his book, Percoco compliments Barnard's creation, but states: "Yet I think the right call was made in sending the duplicate cast of the Saint-Gaudens cast to London. I have seen that, too, and in that particular space, Barnard's Lincoln would have looked very out of place. Lincoln the statesman is to be preferred on the international stage as our exportable image (emphasis is mine) for another nation's capital." Even now, questions about Lincoln's image (and, thus, memory) still exist. Was he the Lincoln of "The Prairie Years" or of "The War Years?" Is one truly better than, or preferable to, the other? Does context matter? Who decides? In cases like this, should an artist use his/her interpretation of a figure, or try to gauge what the potential audience wants? Can these answers change over time?

i have not seen Saint-Gaudens' work, nor its location in London, but to me, it appears Barnard accomplished his personal artistic goals, even while not matching the expectations of much of the audience. His statue shows what appears to be a normal man, not a super-hero, in a fairly normal-looking stance, not someone striking a pose for a portrait or to project a grandiose image. 

To me, it is neither an overly romantic representation of its subject nor an insult to his memory. Perhaps placing Lincoln's hands by his side or behind his back may have made the statue look more natural, but if Barnard made a mistake, it may have been more in his choice to portray the younger Lincoln than in the execution of his vision. Even if his final product does not show a "statesman-like" figure, it remains a plain, honest rendering of an American icon, a rendering whose story is as fascinating as the statue itself.

Barnard's statue on left, St.Gaudens' on right

(Note on Sources
Most of the sources I used are linked or mentioned within the three posts, but I will add another post to list them in an easier-to-read format.)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Colonel Mosby on college football

I interrupt my series on the Lincoln statue to bring back this post from a few years ago. It seems appropriate during this first weekend of this season's college football.

Changes have occurred since I wrote that post (for instance, the Bowl Championship Series has been replaced by a playoff system, the biggest conference realignments seem finished, and players now can get "full cost of attendance" payments)  but they probably only reinforce Mosby's points.