Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Discussion: Maney 's Confederate Brigade at the Battle ofPerryville

As I mentioned in my recent post, I have been doing more reading in the last several weeks, so I thought I would make a couple of posts about some recent books I have read and enjoyed.

When I started this particular entry, I was going to discuss a few of these books all in one post, but I decided to discuss just one book at this time, as it was one I really enjoyed, and I read it just after my tour at Perryville, which allowed me to enjoy it even more than I would have with different timing. Not only did I have a better understanding of the land and area, but the tour left me we much more knowledge of individually leaders and units that this book discussed. It was great, though unplanned, timing on my part.

Maney's Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Perryville by Stuart Sanders discusses one of the main Confederate units at Perryville, a brigade led by Brigadier General George Maney, discussing in detail its role in the battle, following the attack by Daniel Donaldson's Confederates, much of which started near the area where the modern park entrance and museum are.

Sanders shows how this unit approached a Federal position, now known as the Open Ridge or Parson's Ridge, eventually attacking up the hill and dislodging the Union troops with hard, even hand-to-hand fighting, before continuing the fight down the other side of the hill, through the cornfield and through more severe fighting on Starkweather's Hill.

Sanders does a fine job of describing the fighting, troop movements and terrain, though perhaps my visit to the site helped make this seem more understandable to me. Nevertheless, after reading this book, I felt much more confident in my knowledge of at least this part of the battle, including questions about Maney's behavior during the fight (should he go forward with his troops or stay back with the reserves? ) and placement of individual units, such as the 41st Georgia or 1st Tennessee, among others.

I have read two other books that Mr. Sanders has written - Perryville Under Fire: TheAftermath of Kentucky's Largest Civil War Battle   and The Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky - and enjoyed them as well, so I do believe that my enjoyment of this book was due to more than my springtime trip to Perryville. I enjoy his writing style and have found his books to be very well-researched, with detailed endnotes as well.

Selfishly, my hope is that the author, or someone else, can manage to write a similar book about the more southern  end of fighting at Perryville, closer to the Bottom House and Doctor's Creek. That would really give me a better understanding of this hard-fought battle often called "the Confederate High Tide in the West," and, possibly an excuse for another trip to this beautiful and hallowed ground.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Still Hanging Around

Yes, I am still here, or maybe I should say I'm baaaaaaack!

A year without posting is shameful and though I will likely touch on some of the reasons (excuses?) for my absence in this and maybe future posts, I do have a few topics to mention today. It will probably not come across as the most prepared or researched posting ever, but I hope it will be evidently honest and straight-forward about some of my life experiences and studies and reasons for such an absence.

First, despite the lack of posting, I have maintained my interest in the Civil War. I still serve as President of the James A Ramage Civil War Museum. My previous post was a preview of our Battery Hooper Days event for 2013, but this post comes just In time to review the 2014 version of this event. It went well, as temperatures were low for August in this part of the land, and the rain stayed away despite cloudy skies.  We had  several new displays inside the museum and out, including a medical tent set-up in our encampment,  a new display on the 1864 election and a re-enactors group from Camp Nelson, portraying Company L of the 12th Regiment U.S Colored Heavy Artillery.  We also had a temporary display of a statue that Civil War veterans donated to a local group of nuns as a thank you for care they had given to their wounds. It is a beautiful statue and we were fortunate to have it on display.

Attendance was a bit lower an usual, at least on Sunday. That was frustrating as we thought we had done a good job of greeting publicity, buy maybe the threatening skies scared some visitors away from a mostly outdoors event. We controlled what we could and are satisfied with our efforts, though we will always look for ways to do even better.

I also continue to volunteer at the Campbell County Historical and Genealogical Society, as acquisitions manager. We will celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2015 and are in the midst of planning a special event on June 27 of next year, so that will require some time and effort on my part as well.

I also am scheduled to give so talk on Abraham Lincoln at the society's January meeting. I am not an experienced public speaker, so that will be a challenge for me, though one I do welcome. As of now, my talk will focus mostly on the 1864 election, the 13th Amendment and Lincoln's Second Inaugural, with some background information about the war's first three years and some of the things that influenced Lincoln as he approached late 1864 and beyond. Hopefully I will be able to do this as a PowerPoint presentation (including finding the equipment to use) as I think that will help me quite a bit.

One of the reasons for my hiatus from posting was, ironically, BHD last year. Preparing for and then going through  It wore me out physically, mentally and emotionally, and just sapped me of my motivation, not only from blogging, but also from basic reading or research also. My job at an insurance company was also extremely busy at this time last year, with lots of mandatory overtime. That did not help me at all.

The good news is that within the past few months, I have started reading much more. I have not dug into much research yet,  but I can feel my desire to do research h and to resume blogging growing as I continue to read more. I think I am back on the right track, and though I cannot promise how much research I will do or how often I will blog, I am confident it will be much more common an in the past year. I have plans to do more cemetery research and with the renovation of the Covington branch of the Kenton Count Library being complete, I should be able to head over there more often too. Book reviews should be another good source of material for me as well. I don't know if I will do full reviews of the books I have read in the last few months, but I know that I will want to post at least some thoughts on a few of them as I did make some good choices in reading material.

Also. I believe that my use of my IPAD, and less use of my desktop computer, has made me less interested in posting such long posts (at least compared to message board or Facebook posts) and I hope I can overcome that excuse as well.

I also should mention that I took a very informative (and fatiguing) walking tour at Perryville in May. I saw parts of the field I had not seen before, and learned quite a bit of new information about the battle. The guides were super knowledgeable and did a fantastic job leading the group,of about 40 people over the many hills and trails in the park.  This tour also influenced some of my reading choices in the weeks that followed, a fortunate occurrence, I do believe as I learned even more and was able to understand what I read better, since I had just been on the ground the authors described. Perhaps I will post a few pictures from that tour, though I continued to focus on cannons and split-rail fences . I also took several shots of open fields and hills, though those may not appear interesting, unless I can attach accurate captions to describe what the show. I will see what I can do about that, as Perryville remains one of my favorite places to visit. I even have been there twice already this year, which is unusual. Hopefully I will make at least one more trip, sometime in the fall of this year.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Battery Hooper Days 2013

It is hard to believe, but mid-August is almost here and for me that means Battery Hooper Days time again. 

It is just one week away now and should be another fine event, with some familiar presentations as well as a few new presenters and exhibits.

Please see the Ramage museum's website for directions, but please remember this is a FREE and family- friendly event, as always

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Patrotism Before Complexion

I recently received a copy of he "small edition " of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette of December 31, 1862 and found this little commentary on one of the main issues of the time especially with the Emancipation Proclamation scheduled to be signed by President Lincoln the next day

The story refers to another Cincinnati newspaper, the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer.

Patriotism Before Complexion

The Enquirer objects to the raising of black troops for service against the rebels. Does not its objection go more than skin deep? Is it not opposed to the raising of any kind of troops to fight the Democratic rebellion? But if, as the Democratic leaders recommended, the Democrats are to stay at home to vote, somebody must be had to do their duty in the field. In time of danger men fall to their level. Then a man is estimated by what he does, not by his complexion or race. And it will hardly be denied that a black man who offers his life in the war against the rebels is a vastly better man than a white man who stays at home to vote to aid them.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Uncle Tom's Cabin - A Few Thoughts

I just finished reading this classic American novel byHarriet Beecher Stowe, and though I have no intention of trying to do a full review of it I would like to mention a few thoughts about it.

First of all, what words describe this book? Sad, sickening, astounding are a few that came to mind. Amazing, interesting, heart- breaking, heart-warming - those are a few more.

It's a book of slavery, race, faith, family, departures and arrivals, loss, love, belief. It tries to show differences in how a Southern character and his Northern cousin perceive slavery and slaves and ho living in a new locale provides her with a different view.

I did think that there were too many "happy coincidences" at the end of the story, but that's a small nit to pick. The story was very readable, though some of the scenes tough to read, with so much sadness and bigotry often dominating. It is easy to see how and why this book stirred up so much controversy when it came out, with how the author describes some of the slaveholders, salve traders and slave catchers, not to mention her gripping word pictures of the shaves themselves, particularly Tom and his family. 

I am glad I finally re-read this story. It took me longer to finish than I wish it had, but it was worth the effort. It is no new scholarly account of the war or the coming of the war, but I think it still is a valuable telling of various parts of mid nineteenth century life in the United States, particularly in the border and deep southern states. 

Religion and faith, family and friendship, buying and selling, departure and reunion, freedom and slavery - all themes found throughout Stowe's influential and still interesting work. If any readers of this entry have not read it, or have not done so recently, I certainly suggest you consider doing so. It is a fascinating perspective on the United States of so many years ago.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Recap of Perryville trip

Well, I have been home from my trip for a couple of weeks but have not yet typed up my thoughts on my recent trip, so here goes.

Let me start by saying I did enjoy it very much. It was a pleasant,not too warm nor too cool, day for a walk, slightly overcast and just about as good a day as I could have hoped it would be.

I started in the museum and though I chose not to watch the movie, I was still impressed. The have changed some of the exhibits and displays, and did a fine job. I especially enjoyed the display of some items of Dr. Robert McMeens and the conditions he faced after the battle.

The "mystery" tombstone on display for a year tells a great story and I hope someone finds out if the soldier ever got a replacement stone. (I admittedly forget the sold it's name since I did not take notes during my trip. Hopefully I have learned my lesson in this regard. )

I also picked up a DVD about the battle, a CD of a drum and fife corps, and a couple of magnets and patches from the gift shop to display at home and work, and hopefully that financial contribution will help the park out in some way.

Walking the battlefield was also quite enjoyable, though in hindsight I wish I had stayed a while longer and done more hiking after I stopped for lunch. I had made the effort to drive there and it was a fine day, I was not overly exhausted, yet I kind of rushed home. Oh well.

While there, I walked into areas I had either barely seen or not seen at all, concentrating in the area around Doctor's Creek, the valley where the 42nd Indiana came under attack while gathering water and the land around the Bottom House. I had always viewed the other side of the field (Maney's and Donaldson's attack, Open Knob, Starkweather's Hill, etc.) in previous trips and was very happy to tramp around this area, seeing a new perspective on the fight.

Here are a few of photos I took of the park. Again, I did not take good notes of what the pictures are, but I tried to get some of the hills around the creek, though the pictures do not show them as well as actually being there does.

The last few picture are from around the park (including some of the split-rail fence and cannon pictures I like so much :) ) and there are a couple of just "nature" shots that I thought looked nice. 

Some of 42 IN had to look up this hill when the attack came

From near the creek looking uphill

"Rolling Hills"

Bird landed on left wheel instead of wire on the pole at right as park had hoped

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Here are a few post-card images of Decoration Day/Memorial Day from the early 1900s. The only one of these that has a date on it ("to my comrades") shows 1910 as the date, but I believe the others are from the same time frame, the 1910s or 1920s.

These represent what this holiday was intended to note (I think this is another case where "celebrate" may be inappropriate and perhaps "commemorate" is used too often though perhaps that is because it is the word that best fits the intention of this day.)

Looking at these and others I've seen, it's remarkable how different post cards then were from now. Of course, modern photography makes current cards more reliant on it than on artwork and the imagination that went into these scenes, but the artwork and the scenes so many cards from back then depict are remarkable. The pictures themselves get their powerful messages across, even when the artist decided to add some descriptive wording.

Though I, of course, focus on Civil War veterans, Memorial Day as we now know it is to honor all deceased Veterans of the United States Military and I hope everyone reading this will remember that, even if briefly, on this national holiday.