Telegraph Wire by Kimberly A. O’Connell
Telegraph Wire appears to be a new feature concerning present day Civil War news. In this edition, we learn that the Hunterstown, Pennsylvania Battlefield is being threatened by developers, a Confederate flag has been found in a Kansas, and a new National Park Service Film is about to debut at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Jeff Shaara is also interviewed and asked about his new book Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields.
Eyewitness to War by William H. Wild
Twenty year old Sergeant Prentiss Peabody was a Union Army telegrapher when he was sent on a special mission in Kentucky in late 1862. Here he recounts what happened when he was captured by John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raiders. Peabody was detained on his way to Franklin, Tennessee to deliver some dispatches from Army of the Ohio commander Don Carlos Buell. After Peabody had been captured, he claimed he was on his way to Louisville to visit his dying sister. Although Morgan’s men didn’t completely buy this story, they did let him go on his way, but not before maiming his horse.
Commands: 17th North Carolina by Robert K. Krick
Robert K. Krick writes about four Confederate officers of the 17th North Carolina Infantry. All were captured early in the war, and they sat for a photo in Richmond in March 1862 after their release. The officers were Major Henry A. Gilliam, Captain John C. Lamb, Captain Lucius J. Johnston, and Lieutenant William Biggs.
A Letter From America’s Civil War
This issue’s “Letter” concentrates on the USS Monitor, and the Prince de Joinville’s watercolor rendering of her. It also covers video footage of the USS Canonicus filmed in 1907. The Canonicus was a single-turret monitor built in 1863.
Cheesebox on a Raft by Olav Thulesius
Olav Thulesius tells the story of the USS Monitor, from her design by Swede John Ericsson, to the struggle to get her built and the roles played by various individuals such as Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, to her fight with the CSS Virginia. Ericsson was not trusted by many in the United States Navy because of an explosion on the USS Princeton in the pre-war years. Thulesius explains that the future Monitor inventor had been unfairly blamed for something that had not been his fault. Eventually with the help of key individuals, Ericsson was able to get a contract for the construction of his ship. Ericsson was so sure of his creation that he signed the contract despite extremely unfavorable terms to himself. The Monitor design proved more successful than some of the other early ironclads, especially the USS Galena. Ericsson’s invention managed to fight the feared CSS Virginia to a draw and neutralized the Confederate behemoth as a threat to George McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.
The author is working on a biography of Monitor inventor John Ericsson.
Revealing Monitor’s Secrets by David Krop
The USS Monitor went down off Cape Hatteras on New Year’s Eve 1862. Now, many relics from the stricken ship have been brought back to the surface for cleaning, preparation, and display at The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia. Among the recovered Monitor artifacts author and conservator David Krop discusses are the screw propeller, the anchor, the innovative revolving gun turret, the two 11-inch Dahlgren cannon used in the famous Battle of Hampton Roads, and the engine register. Krop goes on to discuss the efforts being undertaken to conserve the famous warship, a long, dirty, and arduous job.
Martyr Under the Microscope: Lincoln Reconsidered by William Marvel
William Marvel summarizes views expressed in his upcoming book Mr. Lincoln Goes to War in this article. As you might guess by the title of the article, this one is more than likely going to be considered controversial. The author believes Lincoln could have avoided a war, and he goes on to say that Lincoln deliberately invited the beginning of a war anyway. He further argues that Lincoln’s many poor political and military choices during his Presidency only served to lengthen the struggle and increase the suffering of the country.
Brandy Station’s Forgotten Flank by Daniel Murphy
Most people think of Fleetwood Hill when thinking of the Battle of Brandy Station, fought between elements of the cavalry from the Union Army of the Potomac and Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. In this article, Daniel Murphy instead concentrates on the “forgotten flank”, the fight on the northern end of the battlefield on Yew’s Ridge between W. H. F. “Rooney” Lee’s Brigade and John Buford’s Division. At first, the Confederates were able to stand strong, aided by a stone wall. But later in the day, after David McM. Gregg’s Union left wing attacked the Confederate right, J. E. B. Stuart was forced to pull units from his left flank to combat the threat. This gave Buford a bit of an opening, and the fighting swirled back and forth for quite some time, only ending in a Federal withdrawal after reports of Confederate infantry being nearby. Murphy writes that the Union troopers finally realized that they could stand up to and even defeat the Southern cavalry in a fair fight.
Personality by W. Cullen Sherwood and Ben Ritter
The capture of Union Colonel Sir Percy Wyndham by Turner Ashby’s cavalry in the Shenandoah on June 6, 1862 is the subject of this issue’s “Personality” section. The author’s present several candidates for the honor of capturing the Yankee officer, but they believe that Private Holmes Conrad was the one responsible for the feat. Conrad even kept Wyndham’s sword hanging in his home after the war as a reminder of the event.
Men & Materiel: Confederate Spencer Repeaters by Wayne R. Austerman
The Confederate Cavalry fighting in John Bell Hood’s army around Atlanta and later in the Carolinas and Tennessee managed to capture quite a few Spencer breechloading repeater rifle from their Yankee counterparts in the last year of the war. In many cases they put this potent weapon to good use, but lack of ammunition prevented the Spencers from becoming a serious Confederate threat. Austerman writes that the Confederacy did try to purchase equipment from England that would allow them to manufacture Spencer ammunition, but this effort met with failure.
Books reviewed in this issue:
1. The 55th North Carolina in the Civil War: A History and Roster by Jeffrey M. Girvan
2. Disgrace at Gettysburg: the Arrest and Court Martial of Brigadier General Thomas A. Rowley, USA by John F. Krumwiede
3. My Will is Absolute Law: A Biography of Union General Robert H. Milroy by Jonathan A. Noyalas
4. First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’ Civil War by Joan E. Cashin
5. The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and the Civil War’s Final Campaign by Eric Wittenberg
Struck! by Michael Kraus
The torn kepi of Lieutenant James Hardison is pictured in this short article. Hardison and his 139th Pennsylvania Infantry were participating in the Battle of Salem Church on May 3, 1863 during the Chancellorsville Campaign when a bullet hit the lieutenant in the head, killing him instantly. His brother Matthew, a sergeant in the regiment, picked up the kepi and sent it home. After the war, he donated it to the Soldiers and Sailors National Military Museum in Memorial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.