Short Takes

by Fred Ray on June 23, 2012 · 1 comment

A large group of scholars and enthusiasts are gathering Tuesday at UNC Wilmington for a symposium on the remnants of the blockade runner Modern Greece. Sorry, it’s sold out.

From the archives of the Manchester Guardian comes an editorial from 1861 about the impending “war to the knife” in the US. Like most of the British press it was unabashedly pro-Confederate.

The American Minister does not seem to be at all disturbed by having to promise that the Republic and its constitutional Union, ‘shall stand hereafter, as they are now, objects of human wonder and human affection.’ Had these words been written twelve months earlier, they would by this time have been pathetic. As it is, they narrowly escape being ridiculous. What are the Union and Republic now, when more than a third part of the community have not only repudiated the federal compact, but are in open war against the remainder?

The Guardian also comes an article on the aftermath of abolition, based on an upcoming book by an American academic.

After combing through obscure records, newspapers and journals Downs believes that about a quarter of the four million freed slaves either died or suffered from illness between 1862 and 1870. He writes in the book that it can be considered “the largest biological crisis of the 19th century” and yet it is one that has been little investigated by contemporary historians.

This seems exaggerated, but there is no question that abolition often did hurt the very people it was intended to help. This is also part and parcel of the new interest in civilian casualties in the South during the conflict.

Local columnist Rob Neufeld posts an account of local Western NC boys at Seven Pines in 1862.

Picketing, Private Joseph Gibson of the 4th N.C. Regiment commented in a letter to his Iredell County parents, “is marching back and forwards” for ten miles.  “This marching in the mud there is no fun in it certain and sure.”

“We havent any tents now,” he continued.  “I lost all of my close (clothes) and was not able to carry my napsack and it was put in the waggon and the roads was so muddy that they had to throw the napsacks out.”

Both the Library of Congress and The Center For Civil War Photography have exhibits up of 3-D stereographs from the Civil War.

A fascinating look at How We Die today vs. 1900. Diseases that hardly register today carried away many, and keep in mind that medicine had vastly improved since the 1860s. Antisepsis, for instance, was widely accepted in 1900 but unknown in the 1860s.

And a look at missing headstones for soldiers in Washington, at least one of which was found in the garage of a government employee.

In April 1864, a commander in the Confederate Army detailed an officer and two privates to accompany Jordon Mann, a teenage soldier from the 12th Missouri Cavalry, to St. Elizabeths, then named the U.S. Government Hospital for the Insane. The young soldier had been termed “an insane man,” a letter from the commander shows. Months later, he died of typhoid fever.

He became one of as many as 450 military burials on a sharply sloped, disjointed three-fourths-acre site that, in highly unusual fashion, mixes the fallen of two races and two opposing armies.

I believe the date is really 1861 as the Confederates were nowhere near Washington in 1864 except for Jubal Early’s brief visit in mid-July. I also find it unlikely that a Missouri cavalryman would have been there.

UPDATE: Obviously I meant 1861 and not 1961 (corrected).

Also, article alerts—Gary Yee has an excellent article on sharpshooters in the current edition of North and South , and Joe Bilby has one on the Guns of Antietam 1862 in the current issue of The American Rifleman. Unfortunately neither is available online, so you’ll have to buy the magazine. Both are well worth reading, although you’ll have to join the NRA to get their magazine.



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ned B. June 24, 2012 at 6:41 am

Since the article about missing headstones is from the Washington Times, the facts presented should be taken with a grain of salt. What is really wrong in the article is the claim that it has anything to do with Confederates. The 12th Missouri cavalry was a US unit and the commander was the US provost, not from the Confederate army.


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