Cedar Creek Goes On In Spite of Threats

by Fred Ray on October 16, 2017 · 0 comments

If you haven’t been to the Cedar Creek re-enactment I recommend you go. It’s one of the largest, maybe the largest re-enactment of the year, and at least on the occasions I’ve been there it’s been very well conducted. This year was different, however.

In normal years, taps would be played and each side would march back to its tent encampments. But this was hardly a normal year. Last week, organizers announced they had received a letter threatening “bodily harm” to attendees. And Saturday, the battlefield had to be temporarily cleared because a suspicious device, possibly a pipe bomb, was found.

“U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” the reenactors began shouting, underscoring not just their sense of patriotism but the umbrage many felt at having their hobby dragged into the national debate over race and Confederate-era symbolism.

“We wanted to send a message,” said Keith MacGregor, 56, from Lebanon, Pa., who was playing the role of a Union infantry captain for the reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek, held not far from here. “We wanted to show the U.S. that we aren’t going to let some terrorist, or some nut, stop the event. I was never prouder of people in our hobby.”

Before and after the minute-long “U.S.A.” chant, the two sides who acted out the battle came together and thanked each other for coming – and for staying. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played and sung. So was “Dixie.”

We may have to start carrying live Minies if this keeps up. Unfortunately, it was pretty predictable that the culture wars would spread to the re-enacting community, and eventually to the battlefields as well. Like the last one, you may have to pick a side no matter how much you’d like to stay out of it.

Songwriter Stephen Foster is also on the removal hit list.

Sculpted in 1900 by Giuseppe Moretti, the 10-foot-tall statue has long been controversial for its depiction of an African-American banjo player at the feet of the Pittsburgh-born composer. Critics say the statue glorifies white appropriation of black culture, and depicts the vacantly smiling musician in a way that is at best condescending and at worst racist.

And even Abe Lincoln isn’t quite pc enough these days (is anyone?). At

“Everyone thinks of Lincoln as the great, you know, freer of slaves, but let’s be real: He owned slaves, and as natives, we want people to know that he ordered the execution of native men,” Misha Johnson, co-president of fiscal relations for Wunk Sheek told the Daily Cardinal, one of the student newspapers. “Just to have him here at the top of Bascom is just really belittling.”

Calling Lincoln a slave holder shows the unfortunate level of history education at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Whitworth Rifles and Kerr Revolvers

by Fred Ray on October 15, 2017 · 0 comments

Ian at Forgotten Weapons has two recent looks at Civil War weapons. The first is at the fabled Whitworth rifle, used to telling effect by Confederate sharpshooters. This particular rifle actually has a Confederate provenance and a telescopic sight.

Confederate Whitworth Sniper: Sub-MOA Hexagonal Bullets in 1860

One of the commenters recommends a book, The Story of the Guns, a contemporary look at Whitworth’s efforts to design it. For more information on Sir Joseph see my article written a few years ago for a Civil War magazine.

At the other end of the arms spectrum is the Kerr revolver, designed by James Kerr and manufactured by his firm, the London Armoury Company.

Kerr Revolvers: An English Source for Confederate Arms

As always, if you’re unable to get these to play, they are also available on Youtube.

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Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!

What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.

Want to read some interesting Civil War content from amateurs and pros alike? Check out the Top 10 Civil War Blogs and Top 10 Civil War Blogs: 11-20.

Col. Harry Maury post updated

by Fred Ray September 18, 2017

I have updated a post on one of the Confederacy’s most colorful leaders, Col. Harry Maury, which now includes a photograph and info on his burial site.

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General Lee’s Revenge and Other Tales of Modern Madness

by Fred Ray September 13, 2017

General Lee, never one to be counted out when the chips are down, exercised his demonic powers to crash the crane coming to take him down in Dallas. Who knows what’s next. Crop failures? Hurricanes? His powers are vast and nefarious. Seriously, it does seem like we’re seeing a re-primitivization of the West. Once long […]

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Union Brigade Sharpshooters

by Fred Ray September 7, 2017

One of the most interesting but at the same time frustrating parts of researching sharpshooters is finding new sharpshooter units. Of course if you find one there are probably more, but the information on them if often maddeningly vague and incomplete. I’ve recently come across evidence of Federal brigade sharpshooters. We’ve know about the Confederate […]

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Minie vs. Buck and Ball

by Fred Ray September 5, 2017

I found this from a couple of years ago by Cap and Ball, who compares the relative effectiveness of the Minie ball against a single smoothbore ball and the buck and ball cartridge. No question that the rifle is more accurate but OTOH a brigade firing off a volley of buck & ball puts a […]

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Paul Hutton on CSPAN

by Fred Ray September 4, 2017

If you have a chance do watch historian Paul Hutton on CSPAN deliver the keynote address for the conference at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. Hutton is an exceptionally entertaining, witty, and knowledgeable speaker about the Old West. He touches on the Civil War and Bill Cody’s service in it, […]

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