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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Civil War

The End of the Civil War



As we prepare to greet the year 2015, Civil War buffs like me are reminded that the coming year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. That in itself calls for some sort of special recognition, but the city of Charleston, South Carolina, is making special plans to celebrate the end of the war there in the city where that war started. Here are a few of the events they have planned.

If you're in town tomorrow,Thursday, January 1st, 2015, please consider coming out and joining in or watching the Emancipation Day Parade--starting at 11 am outside Burke High School and working its way down King and Calhoun Streets to end at Emanuel AME Church (see  http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20141231/PC16/141239933 ). This year's commemoration is especially significant in that exactly 150 years ago in 1865 the provisions of the proclamation that anyone formerly enslaved would be henceforward "forever free" came into force across the reunited nation on the cessation of the Civil War.

In regard to the latter point, please also keep a look out for a series of events coordinated by the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) program in conjunction with colleagues at the Citadel, the Fort Sumter/Fort Moultrie Trust, and the National Park Service. Governing all these events will be the spirit invoked by President Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address of "malice toward none, charity for all."

On February 18th we will be commemorating the surrender of Charleston with a panel discussion involving the College of Charleston historians and former Avery Research Center director Marvin Dulaney.

On February 20th, Dr Joe Kelly will lead a seminar-style discussion based on the work in his book America's Longest Siege.

On March 11th, two noted Lincoln scholars, Dr Richard Carwardine (President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford) and Dr. Vernon Burton (Clemson University), will give a special Bully Pulpit presentation on Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.

On April 14th, the Fort Sumter/Fort Moultrie Trust in conjunction with the National Park Service will be running special boat-trips to Fort Sumter for ceremonial re-raising of the Union flag.

On April 18th, the Dock Street Theater will see two panel discussions on the end of the war and its legacy featuring some of the nation's most prominent Civil War historians, including David Blight, Eric Foner, Annette Gordon Reed, Tom Brown, Emory Thomas, Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts (this event supported by a major grant from the Humanities Council SC).

On April 19th at 1pm on Hampton Park, there will be a memorial service honoring all of the dead of the Civil War, led by Citadel chaplain Rev. Joel Harris and Rev. Joseph Darby.

On April 19th at 7pm, there will be a reenactment of a feast of reconciliation organized in 1865 by Nat Fuller, Charleston's most prominent African-American caterer (some of you may have seen the Post and Courier piece on this just before Christmas: http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20141223/PC1206/141229762).

As other events appear on the calendar, i will try to keep you posted. In the meantime, I'm holding my own small celebration of the end of the war by working on a new novel that will explore the years immediately after the war. More details on that to come in the new year.

Cyber Monday: Maybe Tomorrow We Can All Get Back to Work!

How are you spending Cyber Monday?I have a lengthy "to-do"list waiting for me. We're going to one (maybe two) Christmas parties tonight, and for one of them I need to wrap up a bunch of presents.  So far, I have the paper out. I also planned to do some baking today, only to discover that the butter in the fridge is something labeled "butter made from olive oil and sea salt." Doesn't sound like Christmas cookie material to me! So baking will be postponed until I can work in a grocery run.

And what have I accomplished so far? Well, I've read lots of ads for special Cyber Monday deals, including a few that feature my own books.  Just in case you're shopping, here are some places you might want to visit.


"The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese." This handy guide for navigating the tricky path to self-publishing is on a "count-down deal." It will be available for only $1.99 until tomorrow morning at 8:00 PST.



"Teddy Takes a Road Trip" is my first attempt at writing a children's book and publishing it through amazon's new program. Until midnight tonight you can get it for free.




And my publisher has a 40%-off deal on all books, so you Civil War fans can pick up the first edition of "A Scratch with the Rebels" with all the endnotes and illustrations.  It is available today only for $14.97 rather than $24.95.



Happy shopping, everyone.

National Nurses' Week, May 6 - 12

This is National Nurses' Week, and the historian in me needs to mention that it was during the Civil War that American women first tried their hand at nursing as a career. Of course women had always done the nursing in their own families, but it was not until the mid-19th century that they ventured beyond the home to work with patients who were not intimate family members.

Florence Nightingale is given credit for originating the idea that women could be useful adjuncts to an army in time of war. It was in Britain during the Crimean War (1854) that the precedents were set. But in America, there remained a moral prohibition against a woman viewing the body of a man who was not her husband or her son.  It took the Civil War to convince doctors and other male medical workers that Women had a place in battlefield hospitals.


This picture shows the primitive conditions of medical care at Gettysburg.  And note that in the medical staff assembled to care for the wounded men in the tent, there is only one woman.


  The first nurses had no medical training, and they were often expected to do little more than hold a suffering hand or write a letter for a soldier who could not do so for himself, as this picture shows.





But as the war dragged on, the services of the women who took up nursing duties for the army became more and more important. A sketch artist for the Harper's Weekly published this montage of women going about their varied duties among the wounded soldiers. They appear in the simple role of housewives mending socks -- as comfort-givers, and as brave women venturing onto the battlefield to perform simple triage among the wounded and dying.




Please make an effort to thank a nurse this week, in recognition for all they do. But if you're interested in history, you might enjoy reading one of the many books written about Civil War nurses. You might even try Beyond All Price, the story of Nellie Chase, who began as an inexperienced regimental nurse for a Pennsylvania unit and finished her career running a 600-bed military hospital in Nashville at the end of the war.







Ice on the River, but No Groundhogs



From ice on the river to soldiers needing discipline to a president in pain, things don't seem to have changed much in 150 years. Here's the latest from Memphis in 1864:

In recognition of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, “Civil War-Era Memories” features excerpts from The Memphis Daily Appeal of 150 years ago. The Appeal is publishing from Atlanta. Perspective from our staff is in italics.

Jan. 27, 1864

Distinguished Arrivals (in Memphis) — Major Gen. W.T. Sherman arrived on Sunday by a gunboat, and is now stopping at the Gayoso House.

Jan. 28, 1864 

From the Memphis Bulletin of the 7th — The Mississippi River was full of floating ice yesterday, the cakes ranging in size from six inches square to half an acre in extent. It was not thick enough to materially impede navigation, but sufficiently observable to form a remarkable incident for this latitude ... We hear that in Wolf River the ice in some places is frozen six inches thick.

Jan. 29, 1864 

Rags Wanted — The highest market price, either in money or subscription, will be paid for clean cotton or linen rags, white or colored, delivered at the APPEAL counting-room, Atlanta. (Before the late 19th century, paper was often made from textile fibers, like cotton and linen, taken from recycled rags. The APPEAL supplied rags to its paper vendors who produced paper that was often more durable than that made later from wood pulp).

Jan. 30, 1864

The cavalry in Mississippi has been divided into two parts: all north of Grenada and in West Tennessee is under command of Major-Gen. Forrest; all south of an imaginary line running through Grenada, east and west, and in Louisiana, is under command of Major-Gen. S.D. Lee. General Forrest’s headquarters will be at Como, Panola County and Gen. Lee’s at Jackson (Miss).

Feb. 1, 1864

Letters from Mississippi — Gen. Forrest is busily engaged organizing and bringing under proper discipline and restraint the troops which he brought out of West Tennessee. They need it.

Feb. 2, 1864

Lincoln’s Cares — No man in this agony, says the “Boston Watchman,” has suffered more and deeper, albeit with a dry, weary patient pain that seemed to some like insensibility. “Whichever way it ends,” he said to the writer, “I have the impression that I shan’t last long after it is over.”

I Don't Want to Argue about Global Warming, but . . . .

Does anything in this news article from 150 years ago sound familiar?  I'm almost embarrassed to write anything about the weather because we've been very lucky in Memphis so far this year:  NO SNOW! But our temperatures, like elsewhere, have been unusually low.  We dealt with a frozen pipe after a 9-degree night a week or so ago, but nothing like what the Commercial Appeal reported in 1864!

In recognition of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, “Civil War-Era Memories” features excerpts from The Memphis Daily Appeal of 150 years ago. The Appeal is publishing from Atlanta. Perspective from our staff is in italics.

Jan. 20, 1864

We have frequently heard of our troops “charging the Yankees,” but they have invariably been fortified with muskets and fixed bayonets. It remained for (Gen. Nathan Bedford) Forrest to inaugurate charging an enemy without a weapon of any description. In his recent retreat from Jackson, Tennessee, he was attacked by the Yankees near the line of the Memphis and Charleston railroad, and his armed forces being small, he ordered the new recruits, two thousand in number, who had not received arms, to charge the enemy. They immediately rushed forward, and the Yankees, astounded at the force coming toward them, fled in all directions, leaving Forrest a clear road to Oxford.

An account from Jan. 23 describes the charge in more detail: (Forrest) divided his men into two columns, one of which he sent, under Col. Faulkner, across the railroad, within five miles of Memphis. The other he commanded in person, taking the Bolivar route, and crossing the railroad near Collierville. Near Bolivar, he met Col. Hatch’s Yankee cavalry, and though they largely outnumbered his force, he charged them with a yell, causing them to scatter in every direction ... Not more than a third of Gen. Forrest’s men were armed, but he mixed up the armed with the unarmed men, and ordered the whole to charge at once. His men were nearly all raw recruits, while the Federals had, from their own accounts, not less than twenty thousand disciplined men after him.

Jan. 22, 1864

Letter from Mississippi (Grenada) — The weather continues intensely cold. The managers of the hospitals are taking advantage of the heaviest ice ever known in Mississippi to lay in a supply for next summer. Travel and mails have been much interrupted by water and mud freezing over the railroad tracks.

Memphis Intelligence — The cold was severe in Memphis — 10 below zero ... On President’s Island about eighty negroes perished. A detachment of ten soldiers from Fort Pillow, chasing after deserters, were frozen, as were also five on a sandbar in the river ... At Cairo the mercury stood at 15 degrees below zero, at St. Louis 25 below.