Short Takes

by Fred Ray on November 17, 2017 · 0 comments

A nostalgic look back at the long relationship between the Army and whiskey.

American commanders began supplying strong drink in 1775 — right after the Continental Army was formed. Congress voted to supply it with beer. Gen. George Washington, who was fond of beer and all sorts of drink, nonetheless felt something heartier was required. “The benefits arising from the moderate use of strong Liquor have been experienced in all armies, and are not to be disputed,” wrote Washington to John Hancock, then president of the Congress. Washington directed that each soldier be issued a gill — 4 ounces — of whiskey each day, and later directed field commanders to reward valor with additional rations. To keep fighting men in their cups, Washington asked Congress to fund the erection of whiskey distilleries. (His request was not satisfied. Washington opened his own whiskey distillery near his Mount Vernon estate a couple decades later.)

In the Civil War whiskey was used extensively for medicinal and recreational purposes. Wounded soldiers were often given some as they arrived at the field hospital, and it was otherwise (wrongly) considered a stimulant.

U.S. Grant was fond of it, leading Lincoln (perhaps apocryphally) to consider sending some of whatever he drank to his other generals.

And it’s still popular today.

At Forgotten Weapons Ian McCollum checks out the Burnside carbine, and yes it was designed by the same Ambrose who later commanded the Union IX Corps and briefly the Army of the Potomac. It was quite an advanced design for its time, and ended up the third most commonly used Federal carbine.

 

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I Feeel Good! (About Raiding Harpers Ferry)

by Fred Ray on November 11, 2017 · 1 comment

Lots of bad news all over these days, but I did get a laugh out of this one.

The Associated Press had to issue a correction last month after a story suggested that legendary 20th Century musician James Brown, and not fiery abolitionist John Brown, led a raid on Harpers Ferry just before the Civil War.

I’m not sure that America was ready for James Brown in 1859, or even 1959, but he’d still have been better received than John Brown.

The level of historical learning in this country does seem to be abysmal and getting worse.

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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.

Ron Chernow on on U.S. Grant

by Fred Ray November 6, 2017

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Ron Chernow discusses his biography on Ulysses S. Grant, with a focus on the 18th president’s final years and the writing of his memoirs. Saw part of this the other night and it’s worth watching to learn more about Grant.    

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Runaways Returned to Plantations—By Yankees in 1864

by Fred Ray November 5, 2017

Wait, what? So says a letter from a Union surgeon, William C. Towle of the 12th Maine, written from Camp Parapet, near Carrolton, Louisiana, on April 4, 1864. The most of the Negroes who were carried up river from here to work on plantations have returned having runaway as soon as they were at liberty. […]

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Whitworth Correction and the Butterfield Revolver

by Fred Ray November 4, 2017

Ian at Forgotten Weapons posts a correction to his Whitworth video, and explains the difference between Minute of Angle, which is how accuracy is measured today, and Figure of Merit, which is how it was done in the 19th Century. Not only that, the British and the Americans had their own versions that differed considerably. […]

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More Confederate Arms on Forgotten Weapons

by Fred Ray October 24, 2017

Ian McCollum seems to be on some sort of roll with forgotten and rare Confederate weapons. First up is the Griswold and Gunnison revolver. Griswold and Gunnison were rather unique among Confederate revolver manufacturers for their ability to actually create a reliable and high quality product and produce it on a regular and predictable schedule. […]

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Cedar Creek Goes On In Spite of Threats

by Fred Ray October 16, 2017

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 […]

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