Friday, December 24, 2010

Failure in the Saddle Review

A new book that I would consider to be MUST reading for any Army of Tennessee aficionado is Dave Powell's newest, Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign. I have chided Dave for several years that with this book he would never be able to come south again, due to daring to offer a critique of N.B. Forrest in this campaign, but after reading the complete book I have to say that any open minded student of Forrest and the western cavalry will learn a lot from this book and even if you don't agree with the analysis offered by Dave, I still think it gives you a lot to think about. With that though I do agree with the author on these subjects.
Forrest does not perform that well in this campaign, not all of this is his fault however, having to deal with several less than stellar subordinates, General John Pegram and Col. John S. Scott, as well as having to command a Corps for the first time. One thing that is often lost on Forrest is his rapid rise to commanding a corps, going from commanding a brigade in April to corps by September, with several intervals due to other factors. Forrest has a learning curve and its one that he benefits from, the Forrest of 1864 had to be made and the Chickamauga campaign was part of that. Dave is fair with Forrest and so although he fails at things, he does ultimately learn from his mistakes.
Forrest, however, is only part of this story. The other half belongs to "Fighting Joe" Wheeler, who really comes out of this looking bad. Wheeler never learned, and was a problem for the mounted arm of the Army of Tennessee. Wheeler should be held up with Leonidas Polk as one of the most incompetent high level leaders in the Confederate service.
I have often said that if the cavalry is the eyes and ears of an army, then the Army of Tennessee was blind and deaf during this campaign and Dave's book definitely cements that view. I high recommend it to anyone interested in the Chickamauga Campaign or the Army of Tennessee in general.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Union is Dissolved!

I have been wondering for several days what I was going to write this evening, I felt that I needed to note the evening of December 20th, 2010 with some posting in observance of the 150th Anniversary of the Secession of South Carolina, the first domino to fall that leads to the firing on Fort Sumter in April of 1861. So as I rode back from a trip to Shiloh and Corinth, I thought about all of the lives that this event impacted, almost all of the men that fought in those battles were living quiet and peaceful lives 150 years ago tonight, a year later they were embroiled in a bloody war due to the series of events that this one kicked into high gear. So while fellow bloggers are covering the modern commemoration/celebration in SC, or what the cause of this event was I will refer you to future brigade commander and General, Arthur M. Manigault who would recall with a Lost Cause slant:

"The election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States by the Republican party of the North, in October 1860, satisfied the people of the Southern States that the time long since foreseen by our wiser statesmen, had at last arrived when the South must withdraw from the Union. It was now evident that the party into whose hands the direction of the government had fallen would to a great extent pervert the Constitution to the advancement of their own ends, and denying us through the majority which they possessed in Congress, the rights and protection which it secured us, eventually bring about our complete and thorough ruin. To save themselves from the threatened danger, most of the Southern slaveholding States, with remarkable unanimity, one after another, called conventions of the people and passed Ordinances of Secession, beginning with South Carolina, on the 20th of December, 1860, and expresing a desire peaceably to withdraw from the Union, adopted a Constitution of their own, and formed a Government known as the Confederate States of America."

So readers, thus it began. The following morning the famous Evans and Cogswell Broadside proclaiming "THE UNION IS DISSOLVED" was posted.

Friday, November 26, 2010

November Museings and Updates

Just a little update. Today is the 147th anniversary of the retreat from Missionary Ridge. 147 years ago today two small fights occured. One near Chickamauga Station, involving the famed Orphan Brigade, and the other, Wild Cat Creek, which involved Maney's Brigade. Both actions would be against elements of General Jefferson C. Davis' division. The last few months have been incredibly busy, with the anniversary programs for both Chickamauga and Chattanooga, finishing an essay on Manigault's brigade at Chickamauga, a book review, and researching and writing my next book length project. So thats my pitiful excuse for neglecting this blog. BUT, with that said, I do have some interesting things to post from my research, so look for those in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CCNMP Study Group 2011 tours

Dave Powell has announced his CCNMP Study Group 2011 tour. Below is a brief outline, you can find the full description on his

All day Bus Tour which will cover McClemore's Cove and Davis Crossroads.

Morning, Viniard Field on foot
Afternoon, North Dyer Field, Mendenhall forms a line

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chickamauga Anniversary Sept 17-19, 2010

This weekend is the anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga and as always the NPS is offering a full slate of special tours and other programs, including some 150th programs being provided by our own Chris Young. Anyway, if you want to tramp on the battlefield in conditions very similar to what they were 147 years ago here is your chance. Note, that your hosts here are all involved in the programing, you can view the schedule here, I will be doing five special programs this weekend one on Friday covering Col. John Wilder's defence of Alexander's Bridge, a new one "Sins of the Fathers" which will be about Col. Peyton Colquitt and General James Deshler, A.P. Stewart's Breakthrough, will co-lead the "Secession Crisis" tour with Dr. Keith Bohannon, our own Patrick Lewis, and Lindsey Brown, and conclude on Sunday with my Longstreet's Breakthrough tour. Chris will be leading his Forrest tour, a program on the Civilians caught in the conflict, and then overseeing our 1860 Election programs. Going to be a busy week. So anyway, a lot of good programs free to the public and hope to see some of you all there.

Friday, August 20, 2010

NPS and Franklin

Found the following of interest.

Park Service confirms grant for battlefield
$492,000 will pay down debt for land on Columbia Ave.

By Kevin Walters • THE TENNESSEAN • August 20, 2010

FRANKLIN — Another piece of land on Columbia Avenue is closer to becoming part of a proposed Battle of Franklin battlefield park.

The National Park Service confirmed this week its award of $492,000 to the city of Franklin for use in helping Franklin's Charge complete the purchase of the one-acre Holt House property off Columbia Avenue.

The house and land sit at the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin, which was fought on Nov. 30, 1864, where a cotton gin once stood.

The house and land sit at the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin, which was fought on Nov. 30, 1864, where a cotton gin once stood.

The award is part of $977,500 given from the National Park Service this week to local governments in Franklin, Richmond, Ky., and Bentonville, N.C.
"We must honor the memories of those who fought and teach people about the Civil War and its pivotal role in our nation's history," National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in announcing the grant.

Priority was given to battlefields listed in the National Park Service's Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields. Money is awarded based on the significance of the land to be acquired and the availability of required nonfederal matching funds.
The money is awarded to the city through the NPS's American Battlefield Protection Program and used by the nonprofit Civil War Preservation Trust to buy the land and then deed to Franklin's Charge.

The grant will be used to help pay down the $950,000 spent back in 2008 to buy the Holt House, said Ernie Bacon, Franklin's Charge president.

The group hopes to eventually purchase the Domino's Pizza restaurant and strip center, which would make up much of where a future battlefield park might go.

"Our goal hasn't changed," Bacon said. "Our vision is by 2014 — the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Franklin — is to have a Battle of Franklin park."

Bacon said negotiations for the Domino's Pizza land are ongoing. In 2005, Franklin spent $300,000 to buy a Pizza Hut restaurant at 1259 Columbia Ave., which was the first piece of the park.

Congress appropriated $9 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to help nonfederal entities acquire and preserve Civil War battlefields, the NPS said.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Battleflags of the Army of Tennessee

One of my many and varied interests related to the Army of Tennessee is battle flags, I have had the privilage over the years to be associated with a group of researchers who have for a number of years ran a website devoted to Confederate Flags, sadly in recent years we have lost two of the most knowledgeable experts in the field, Howard Madaus and Deveraux Cannon and the fate of the website was in doubt, but now thanks to Greg Biggs and the other members of the group, that site is back up with new content. So if your interested in flags, check it out, Also, the two sections on the Army of Tennessee flags are the best out there.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And still more from SC

This is from the museum:

We wanted to share a brief update with you this morning. The SC Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum has no plans to close in the very near future. We are working with the Budget and Control Board to come up with a short term solution until our elected leaders can solve our budget problem.

In the meantime, the broad outpouring of support has been outstanding and the one bright spot in this whole situation! We really appreciate it and will keep you posted! Thank you!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More on SC Woes

From The State newspaper, July 17, 2010:

"Confederate Relic Room. The $765,000 needed to fund the third oldest museum in the state was struck from the budget when the House upheld Sanford’s veto of the state Budget and Control Board’s budget. The museum focuses on South Carolina’s military history from the Revolutionary War to the present."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Woes in South Carolina

Yesterday Governor Sanford vetoed the Board’s entire $25.2 million General Fund appropriation for the Budget and Control Board for next year. This section of the budget includes the entire General Fund operating budget for the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. If this veto is not overridden, the museum will have to cease operations. In his veto message to the General Assembly, the Governor stated that he was taking this action because the “Board has sufficient carry-forward and other funds to maintain its operations in this fiscal year.” This is not correct. There are not sufficient funds to make up the $25.2 General Fund cut to the Board, which includes $765,000 for the museum. This veto represents the greatest threat the museum has faced in our 114 years of existence. If this veto is not overridden we will no longer be able to preserve South Carolina’s proud military legacy.The General Fund pays for our entire operating costs such as staff salaries and utilities. We’ve already endured five budget cuts in recent years and operate frugally. Ticket and gift shop revenues are modest and will not sustain our operations. While we have just launched a new membership program, these efforts take many years to bear fruit. Almost every museum and cultural institution in the country relies on public funds to keep its doors open.If this veto is sustained, we don’t know what would happen to our artifact and archival collection valued in the tens of millions of dollars. I do know it would be a grave concern to the thousands of families who entrusted their irreplaceable artifacts to the museum and the State of South Carolina. It will require a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate to override the Governor’s veto. Please share this message with anyone you know who is interested in preserving our state’s rich heritage.Fast facts about the museum:· 1896 - Founded ·
2004 – Nationally accredited by the Association of American Museums·
2006 - A national award for Write from the Front that collects photographs & emails from SC servicemen and women serving in the War on Terror. ·
2007 - Museum expanded, opening a large, second gallery and major exhibit, Forgotten Stories: South Carolina Fights the Great War·
2008 - Awarded the South Carolina Council for the Social Studies’ Program of Excellence award. 2002 – 2009 Seven straight years of increasing attendance with April 2010 a record month!

Attendance has doubled since 2004 and will grow again in 2010W. Allen Roberson, DirectorSC Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum301 Gervais StreetColumbia, SC 803 737-8096c: 803 315-4472fax: 803 737-8099

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Breckinridge and Brown

Just a hat tip to a blog that I was recently refered to,, by Tim Talbott. Tim has been blogging a lot about the reaction to John Brown's raid, and in his latest post is quite interesting concerning then, Vice President John Cabell Breckenridge, and John Brown. So enjoy and add Tim to your blogroll.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Truth About...

One interesting footnote about the Battle of Chickamauga is the story of the Archibald Gracies, both father and son. General Gracie is an interesting story alone, New Yorker who sides with the Confederacy, in many ways the Anti-Thomas of the battle. Less known is his son, Archibald Gracie IV. Gracie IV was born in Mobile, Ala in 1858 and was only five when his father was killed outside of Richmond in 1864. He would then mirror his fathers life in many ways, attending West Point, being involved in the State militia, rising to the rank of Colonel in the famed 7th New York Militia, and being a sucessful business man.

In the 1890s Gracie would visit the Chickamauga battlefield and see the area of Snodgrass Hill where his father's brigade fought and leave with many questions, questions that he began to research and ultimately lead to him spending seven years writing a book that would be published as The Truth About Chickamauga, more of a study of Snodgrass Hill with some hefty errors in it. Gracie rightfully challenged the placement of certain monuments on Snodgrass Hill, he accomplished this by his own research and heavy correspondents with many of the Union commanders. Gracie intended for the Truth to be a two part study and was working on a Confederate companion when he decided he needed a break.

Seven years of work on Chickamauga had seen the publication of Truth in December of 1911, and Gracie deciding that he need a break before starting on Part II. This leads Gracie to travel to Europe alone, leaving New York in early 1912 aboard the famed liner, The Oceanic. Gracie then booked his return trip to be the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. Gracie, staying in First Class spent a great deal of his time with Isodor Strauss, the famed co-owner of Macy's Department Store. Strauss had been involved in Confederate blockade running during the war when he lived in Georgia. Gracie gave Strauss a copy of his book and the two discussed it. On April 14th Strauss finished the book. That night the Titanic would strike an ice berg and sink in the early AM hours of April 15th. Copies of the Truth About Chickamauga going down with the ship. Gracie would be one of the survivors of the sinking, his friend Isodor Strauss would not.

Upon returning to New York, Graice would forgoe working on his second part to Chickamauga, instead penning The Truth About the Titanic. Gracie would not live to see it published though, he would die from complications from diabeties in December of 1912. He would be laid to rest near his father in Brooklyn's Woodlawn Cemetery. Today it is interesting that his Truth About Chickamauga is considered to be one of the most flawed books on the battle, yet his Truth About the Titanic is considered to be one of the best primary accounts of the Tragedy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Symposium at Chickamauga Battlefield, April 24

The Face of Battle: The Secession Crisis

In commemoration of the pivotal events that occurred 150 years ago during the volatile year of 1860, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will present a symposium about the critical events of 1860 and how they affected the Chattanooga area as the country slid toward civil war. The event will occur at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center Theater on Saturday, April 24, 2010 beginning at 8:45 a.m.
Speakers will cover a variety of topics related to the Secession Crisis in the local area and the country as a whole. As we enter the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War, we look to the events that led to the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861. Who were the men that led the way to this event? What thoughts went through the people’s minds as their country began to tear itself apart? Why did they feel it was no longer possible for them to remain part of the United States? We will look at the men and the challenges that they faced during this critical time as the Union began to dissolve.
Speakers and their topics include:
8:45 a.m. Welcome
9:00 a.m. Dr. Daryl Black, “Christian Newspapers and their Coverage of the Secession Crisis”
9:45 a.m. Patrick Lewis, “High Private: How Sam Watkins’ Sideshow Obscured the Big Show of American History”
10:30 a.m. Dr. Keith Bohannon, “Secessionists, Cooperationists, and Unionists: North Georgians Debate the Creation of a Southern Republic, 1860-1861.”
11:15 a.m. Sam Davis Elliott, “Tennessee Governor Isham G. Harris and the Coming of the Civil War”
12:00 p.m. Question and Answers with the speakers.

Reservations are required. Please contact the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center at (706) 866-9241 to reserve a space by the afternoon of April 23, 2010. For more information about programs at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, contact the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center at (706) 866-9241, the Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center at (423) 821-7786, or visit the park’s website at

Friday, March 26, 2010

Resaca Again

Well this is looking like a ping pong match, but I think this is the best course.

The following from the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Resaca rebirth
by Andy Johns

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 RESACA, Ga. -- A few weeks ago, Ken Padgett was ready to sound the bugle and retreat from Resaca Battlefield.

After 20 years of fighting, he thought he'd lost the effort to create a park at the site, where about 150,000 Union and Confederate troops waged war in 1864.

"We thought everyone was going to walk away," Mr. Padgett said, standing where the entrance to the park would be off Resaca-LaFayette Road near the Interstate 75 interchange. "We feel if that were to happen, (the park) was never going to happen.

"But a letter drafted by the Gordon County Commission and sent to the state Department of Natural Resources has breathed new life into the project.

Last Tuesday, the Gordon County Commission agreed to ask the state to get started on the 540-acre site with plans to expand it when state revenues pick up.

Under the proposal, the Department of Natural Resources would use allotted funds to build a road, parking area and interpretive trails at the site, according to Gordon County Commission Chairman Alvin Long.

The county would be responsible for maintaining the property, and an area for a visitors' center would be left clear so the state could build it when funds become available, Mr. Long said.

Kim Hatcher, a spokeswoman for Georgia State Parks, said building the road, trails, outdoor exhibits and restrooms is possible, but nothing has been agreed upon.

"We look forward to continuing this discussion with Gordon County," Ms. Hatcher said in an e-mail Wednesday.

Mr. Padgett and other local residents began raising the flag for their cause in the early 1990s, and the site progressed as far as a groundbreaking, an announcement from the governor and a $5 million bond issue.

Mr. Long said the state originally allotted $5 million for the park but diverted funds to another project. State officials have said that $3.7 million always was the amount slated for the park.

About $400,000 has been spent on surveying, and about $3.2 million now is left, according to the state.In December, after the state said it couldn't handle the project in the current budget crisis, the county voted to take over the site as a county park.

But soon afterward, local leaders said $3.2 million is not enough for the project. They worried that if the county couldn't build it at that price, the state might reallocate the funds elsewhere.

On top of that, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers required the county to reapply for permits to build in a flood plain, which the state already had granted. Getting new permits would have delayed the project at least six months, and officials want the park open for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War beginning in 2011.

"We've really been let down," Mr. Long said. "It's the best and only option we have right now."Mr. Long said he hopes the road and trails could be finished by the end of the year. There's no definite time frame for the visitor center.

The Department of Natural Resources "is skeletonized right now," Mr. Padgett said. "At least we have this."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Book by Robert Remini

To be a quality Civil War historian, whether it be the Army of Tennessee or any other Confederate or Union army, one must be aware of the events leading up to this great conflict. Robert V. Remini has written a new book concerning the Compromise of 1850, the Compromise that prolonged the war by a decade. This book is set to be available for purchase in May 2010. Please take a look at the preview on my Antebellum blog for further information.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Resaca Battlefield Update

More bad news from Resaca and one that concerned me since the State backed out.

From the Calhoun Times:

Resaca Battlefield project may be out of the question
by Lydia Senn

After months of debate, speculation and public scrutiny, it appears the proposed Resaca Battlefield project might not move forward.Gordon County Board of Commissioners Chairman Alvin Long announced during the March 2 meeting of the board that the project could be put on hold indefinitely because the current proposed location is in a floodplain.“You would think the state would know the Army Corp of Engineers exists,” said Long. The state did not check with the Army Corp of Engineers about project feasibility before making plans for a visitor’s center, a parking lot and walking trails, he said.Long said the project could take an additional six months and new plans for the facility would cost more than the $3.2 million the state had offered to turn over to the county for the project.Long said state representative John Meadows (R-Calhoun) is taking acquisitive measure to find out whether or not the funds awarded by the state to the county for the Resaca Battlefield project could be used in other endeavors.“What we are asking the state to do is spend that money on local projects,” Long said.While he could not point to any projects specifically, Long emphasized that the county is not guaranteed these state funds. If the state gives the county the OK to use the funds, he said, the money would have to be used on state-owned property such as an intersection.“We are certainly going to fight for it,” he said.

Of course a few questions come to mind, first of all why would you need to build the Visitor's Center there on the flood plain? At one time there was talk of using a period house in the town as the Visitor Center. Also, Im for a low impact battlefield, so a parking area near Hwy 136 and then walk in, see how the Pickett's Mill Battlefied for an example of this. The main thing that needs to be done is to get the site open for visitiors, you can do that simply with parking and trails, you dont have to have the VC yet, sort of the Field of Dreams approach, build it and they will come.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Blog

A new blog of note and worth for those interested in the Western Theater has recently come along, that being Stuart Salling's Louisiana in the Civil War. Stuart's blog covers all things Louisiana with a strong interest in Daniel Adam's/Randall Gibson's Louisiana Brigade. Stuart's book on that brigade will be released this spring from McFarland Press. I came in contact with Stuart many years ago when he was researching this book and I am looking forward to reading it. So in this Mardi Gras season check out Louisiana in the Civil War,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In Memory

I would be remiss at this time if I didnt note the passing of Historian Dr. Arthur "Art" W. Bergeron. Art passed away on Feb 8th after a hard battle with cancer. Although I had never met Art in person he had been of great assistance to me over the years. Art will be best known for his Guide to Louisiana Confederate Military Units, 1861-1865. Art, along with Lawrence Hewitt was working on a new essay series for the University of Tennessee Press, Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, the first two volumes of this series are set for release this spring. Art was of great help to anyone who contacted him and he will be greatly missed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cleburne the Movie

Im not going to say much here about it, I think that Kevin Levin has done a more thoughtful post on this over at Civil War Memory,, concerning the central theme of this movie adaption of Cleburne: A Graphic Novel, which is Cleburne's proposal to arm slaves in 1864. The few comments I would like to make concern the "other" aspects of the novel that I find troubling. First of all there are some errors that are very glaring, boulders being rolled down Missinary Ridge, It is made to look like Bragg passed command of the army directly to Joe Johnston, Hardee is completely left out, then there is the one that really gets me, the continued character assissination of Braxton Bragg, bet you would never thought you would hear that phrase, Bragg is portrayed as the ultimate villian in this, starting out by wanting to take the distinctive Hardee Corps battleflags from Cleburne as punishment, when it was Joe Johnston that did that in an attempt to have uniformity within his army. Bragg actually gave Cleburne his own saddle when he left the army and praised him in his final report for his actions at Missionary Ridge and Ringgold Gap. But to make Johnston out to be the saint and Bragg the devil it distorts the truth. Bragg is a complex figure with many warts, but no one is all good or all bad. But with that said, even if you still cant stand Bragg, you need to have the history correct. I will leave you with this paragraph from the Flags of the Confederacy website concerning the Hardee Corps flags of 1864,
"In early March of 1864, shortly after Hardee's Corps of the Army of Tennessee had returned to Dalton from its sojourn to reinforce General Polk's Army of Mississippi, General Cleburne petitioned that the four brigades of his division be permitted to retain the distinctive blue battle flags that had been employed by Hardee's Corps throughout 1863. Although General Joseph E. Johston had been attempting to enforce a uniform battle flag upon the Army of Tennessee since his arrival on 27 December 1863, he relented in the case of Cleburne's Division and allowed that command to be recognized by the blue flags with white central discs and white borders that had been their distinctive flags since Bowling Green in the winter of 1861-1862."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Captain Goldman Bryson and the First Tennessee National Guard

As Lee White and I were sitting at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center Information Desk on Saturday, January 23, I was approached by an individual wishing to relate a story to me about how one of his ancestors caught a miniƩ ball in the shoulder during the battle and wanted more information on the unit his ancestor fought with during Chickamauga. Well, like so many visitors, he only had a name, a name Lee and I could not specifically pinpoint for the gentleman. I believe the surname was Brannon, but that is beside the point in this case.

According to Lieutenant C.H. Taylor, a skirmish took place deep in the hills of Cherokee County, North Carolina, on November 1, 1863. Taylor was the commanding officer of a group of nineteen men who were ordered by Confederate General John C. Vaughn to pursue Captain Goldman Bryson's company of "mounted robbers." Supposedly, Taylor's band tracked the "robbers" for two days, without stopping to eat. They finally came upon Bryson and his men, which scattered. Taylor ordered Bryson to stop, and when he refused, Taylor shot him. The wound did not deter Bryson from trying to get away from the Confederates, and he was shot several more times. Taylor's men did find orders from General Ambrose Burnside on Bryson's body and turned them over to his superiors. For further information concerning this skirmish, correspondence can be found in

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Col. Newton Davis Redux

As you know I have presented pieces of letters from Col. Newton Davis of the 24th Alabama when we first started this blog, a particular favorite being his young brother-in-law, Little Newt. Anyway, I have recently come in contact with a decendent of Davis and he has shared some family information as well as some other things that will posted in the future. However, at this time I do want to post a prewar picture of Newton N. Davis. So for those of you who like to put a name to a face, here is Newton Davis.

Good News for Raymond!

Fresno, California
January 15, 2010

Western Theater Historians & West Coast Preservationists
Rally to the Support of Mississippi Battlefield

In October 2009 the 25th annual West Coast Civil War Conference convened in Clovis, California. The event, which focused on the 1863 campaign for Chattanooga, Tennessee, drew attendees from across the United States and hosted some of the most recognizable historians on the subject. The scholars turned down speaking fees to help raise additional money for historic conservation. By weekend’s end, the symposium had consummated a modest victory, earning just over $7,500 for battlefield preservation. Impressed with the model grassroots preservation achievements of the Friends of Raymond Battlefield in Mississippi, all of the proceeds have been donated to help further their continued efforts. The event was hosted by the San Joaquin Valley Civil War Round Table of central California. For more information on preservation at Raymond please contact:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son..."

The Army of Tennessee would lose four brigade commanders in the Battle of Chickamauga, Brigadier Generals Preston Smith, Ben Helm, and James Deshler, along with Colonel Peyton Colquitt. Today four stacks of cannon balls mark the locations of where they fell. Of the four, Helm, Deshler and Colquitt were all young men, Helm being the eldest at 32, Deshler being 30, and Colquitt being 31, and all three would fall in the blundered attack of Leonidas Polk on the morning of September 20th. Little attention has been given to these three as a group, Helm has always stood out for being President Lincoln's brother in law, but little has been told of Deshler and Colquitt. Of interest is that all three had attended West Point at the same time with Deshler and Colquitt being friends and displaying similar traits.

Deshler and Colquitt also had something else in common, their father's strong Fire Eater personalities that were passed along to them. David Deshler was born in Pennsylvania in 1798 and moved to Alabama in 1825 where he became quite wealthy from his involvement in the establishment and later ownership of the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad, the first railroad west of the Appalachians. By the 1850s Deshler had become quite radical in his political leanings, in February of 1861 he wrote to a friend in Philladelphia, "You don't seem to see that the Black Republican programme would be degradation, socially and politically to our section; it would be the destruction of $4,000,000,000-four thousand millions of dollars-of property to us, besides putting us down upon a platform of perfect equality with our own chattels. How can we stand the proposition? Could you agree to it, supposing that we changed places? Not at all-You would die first. Well, so will we..." David Deshler imparted these views to his son, and he would indeed die for that line of thought. David Deshler would mourn his son for the rest of his life, having already lost his wife, daughter and another son prior to the war. Upon his death in 1871, Deshler willed all of his land and money for the establishment of the Deshler Female Institute in Tuscumbia, being named for James.

Walter T. Colquitt was a legal powerhouse in the state of Georgia, making his way to the state Supreme Court. Judge Colquitt was a strong states rights advocate and urged immediate secession in 1850, at the Nashville Convention of that year, which meet to consider what the southern states should do if Congress banned slavery in the new territories. During the discussion Colquitt losing patience for the debate that was going on stood and said that the time for talking was over, action was needed and that instead of words that they should be casting bullets and preparing for war. Colquitt also passed his beliefs onto his sons, particularly Peyton, who after dropping out of West Point would become editor of the Columbus Sentinel and a state senator from 1857-58. After John Brown's Raid Colquitt would offer the services of his militia company to the State of Virginia, all of this would have made his father proud, but Walter Colquitt had died in 1855. His son would also live up to his father's expectations and go to war, and pay the ultimate price at Chickamauga. Indeed the sins of the fathers would be visited upon the sons a thousand times.

Entrepot, a Review

Entrepot: Government Imports into the Confederate States by C. Lon Webster III is one of the best material culture titles to come out in recent years. Lon tells the incredible story of the Confederate Government's efforts to procure war material abroad and the miraculous efforts that were made to get those supplies into the Confederacy. The book's chapters cover the efforts of Caleb Huse and others in London and then the Chapters deal with one of the major ports to which supplies were sent through. This book has appeal on many levels from just the story of Huse and the other purchasing officers in London to just incredible data on the massive amount of items that were being sent through, everything from cannon to mess kits. Of special interest is the author's breakdown of what items were being sent to the Army of Tennessee. So I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the material culture of the Confederate soldier and of the Army of Tennessee in particular.

The Legacy of Stones River Symposium

Put Saturday, March 20th, 2010 on your calendars. The Legacy of Stones River, a series of lectures will be presented in Murfreesboro, the topic will be, "The Legacy of Stones River: Why They Fought examines the individual motivations of men that led them to choose sides in 1861 and begin one of the bloodiest chapters in the American story. Through these individual stories we will learn more about the intellectual and emotional considerations that fed the drive to Civil War." For more information on speakers and topics as well as registration go to,

All of the topics look interesting and the three keynote speakers, Sam Elliott, Dr. Keith Bohannon, and Dr. Ken Noe are well worth the price. Dr. Noe's talk is the topic of his new book, Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861, which will be a must for those of you interested in the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee.

News from Franklin, a little late.

This is from the Dec 24, 2009 The Tennessean by Kevin Walters

FRANKLIN — The story of the Battle of Franklin is bringing historian Jennifer Esler here to lead the city's two main museums.
The story and love, that is. Esler, 53, has been named the first chief executive officer of the Battle of Franklin Trust, the organization that oversees the Carter House and Carnton Plantation. She will start work in Franklin on March 1. For years, she has been the executive director of the $20 million Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va. But she's had ties to Nashville since November 2008, when her husband, Howard Kittell, became president and chief executive officer of The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Nashville.
Esler's job in Franklin will give her a chance to follow her husband to Middle Tennessee and help spread the message of Franklin's past to new visitors.
She wants more people coming to Franklin to learn what the Battle of Franklin meant to the city and the Civil War.
"It needs to be told," Esler said. "It's a national story. It's a story of extraordinary human courage and extraordinary human kindness. These two historic houses tell that story."
The Battle of Franklin erupted between Union and Confederate troops the afternoon of Nov. 30, 1864. It left 8,000 casualties in just a few hours' time. The Carter House was the site on what is now Columbia Avenue, where troops fought in bloody hand-to-hand combat; Carnton Mansion was later a field hospital.
Coordination aimed at attracting visitors. Esler is joining the trust at what could be a propitious time for the city and the two museums. In October, Franklin again drew national attention for preservation work with the reburial of an unknown Civil War soldier that drew thousands of visitors. That comes just a few months after leaders at Carter House and Carnton Plantation created the Battle of Franklin trust to help both sites work more in concert with one another, improving the visits by tourists and raising more money. Trust leaders saw Esler's experience as the selling point to hire her. She will help lead the planning, development and construction of a newly planned Carter House interpretative center.
"While we were impressed with many of the candidates, Jenny stood out as the ideal candidate to lead us in our aggressive efforts to further enhance the visitors' experience of the historic Battle of Franklin and the sites related to the Battle," said Marianne Schroer, trust chairwoman in a prepared statement. Schroer is the wife of Franklin Mayor John Schroer. Esler said her first task will be to talk to staff and community leaders about what they want for both sites. "I'm big on building a team and so I'm hoping that we can create a sense of team between both organizations and both boards," Esler said.