Thursday, December 08, 2016

In Volcano, California, a 737-pound brass cannon named "Old Abe" played a pivotal role in ending a secession movement in 1860s California


From the San Luis Obispo Tribune
July 4, 2015 — Dan Krieger - Special to The Tribune
'Old Abe' versus rebels in California's Gold Rush towns
A 737-pound brass cannon named Old Abe played a pivotal role in ending a secession movement in 1860s California with some strategic window breaking.

"A pro-Union group, “the Volcano Blues,” petitioned the arsenal in Benicia for some artillery. All that could be spared was a 737-pound, Boston-manufactured brass cannon from the Mexican era. It fired a 6-pound ball and could do a great deal of damage to the quickly built wooden structures in Volcano. The gun was transported by riverboat to the Carson Pass road and smuggled into town. It was renamed “Old Abe” and mounted on a movable wooden carriage."

Read the full article about Old Abe here

Below, an image of Old Abe in the Library of Congress, dated April, 1940:

According to this Western Mining History website, Old Abe has a brother at Shiloh. I'll need to check with the NPS about that:

"The cannon was cast by Cyrus Alger & Co. in Boston in 1837 and is the first of two 6-pounders made on the same day to be stamped with serial number 4. The cannon was never fired. The other cannon still survives at Shiloh Battlefield and is called "Shiloh Sam". Abe is the only cannon of that age in the U.S. still on a nineteenth century wooden carriage, and has had an interesting history all on its own."


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Remembering the USS Tulip, a Civil War icon


St. Inigoes, MD - It’s been 152 years since the November night when the USS Tulip, serving in the American Civil War—among other things patrolling the Potomac River in search of blockade runners—headed up the river for boiler repairs. The ship never made it to the Anacosta Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
Just off Piney Point in St. Mary’s County and Raggedy Point in Virginia, the boiler blew Nov. 11, 1864. The ensuing explosion ripped the ship apart, claiming 49 lives in the process.
On a crisp morning in St. Inigoes Friday, Nov. 4, the U.S. Navy paid tribute to those lost in the disaster.
[from BayNet.com: read the full article here]

Friday, November 11, 2016

"Dawn Before Gettysburg" (1938), by Edward Hopper



[Veteran's Day Facebook Post, November 11, 2016]
On this Veteran's Day we wanted to share Edward Hopper's painting "Dawn before Gettysburg" (1938). It belongs to the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art in Alabama, where it is shown in the Civil War Gallery.

Hopper calls up the memory of the bloodiest battle that took place in the Civil War. Fifty-one thousand men lost their lives, almost a third of the men who participated. Hopper does not create a violent bloody scene, but conveys to the viewer a great feeling of anticipation. Nine soldiers are seated on a grassy bank along a dirt road in front of a white house trimmed in blue with a white picket fence. The tenth soldier stands looking off into the distance. 

There is stillness in the air as the sun begins to rise. Each man is engaged in some activity, one is tying his shoe, and another has fallen asleep.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

From the attics and shoeboxes of Virginia, a trove of historical gold

A letter written July 4, 1863, by John Winn Moseley after he was wounded and captured in the Battle of Gettysburg. (Library of Virginia)
From The Washington Post:

The opening line still hurts across the years.
“Dear Mother — I am here a prisoner of war & mortally wounded.”
John Winn Moseley was writing home from the Gettysburg battlefield on July 4, 1863. He was a 30-year-old Confederate from Alabama being cared for by his Yankee captors.
“I can live but a few hours more at farthest,” he wrote. “I was shot fifty-yards of the enemy’s line. They have been extremely kind to me.”
Moseley died the next day. His letter — on delicate blue paper, stained with what might be blood — made it to his mother in Buckingham County, Va., and the family kept it ever after. Now it has come to light in a trove of Civil War documents that the State Library of Virginia discovered in a surprisingly straightforward way: It asked state residents to bring them out of their homes.
From 2010 until last year, as Virginia observed the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, archivists traveled the state in an “Antiques Roadshow” style campaign to unearth the past. Organizers had thought the effort might produce a few hundred new items. They were a little off. It flushed out more than 33,000 pages of letters, diaries, documents and photographs that the library scanned and has made available for study online.
Read the full story here

Monday, October 31, 2016

Harry Houdini and the Ghost of Abraham Lincoln


Mary Lincoln passed away on July 16, 1882, but it appears that, even as late as 1924, there was some curiosity about the spirit realm still surrounding Mary’s descendants. Enough curiosity, it seems, that world-renowned magician Harry Houdini helped to dispel the notion of at least one “spirit photograph” featuring himself and Abraham Lincoln.
On Feb. 13, 1924, just one day after what would have been Abraham Lincoln’s 115th birthday, Houdini typed out a letter to Mary Edwards Lincoln Brown, the grand-daughter of Ninian and Elizabeth Edwards, Mary Lincoln’s sister. The letter reads:
State Lake Theatre, Chicago, Ill. Feb. 13, 1924.
Mrs. Mary Edwards Lincoln Brown,Lincoln Homestead,Springfield, Ill.
My dear Mrs. Brown:
Enclosed you will find Spirit Photograph of your renowned ancestor, and although the Theomonistic Society in Washington, D.C. claim that it is a genuine spirit photograph, as I made this one, you have my word for it, that it is only a trick effect.
Mrs. Houdini joins me in sending you kindest regards,
Sincerely yours,Houdini

[From Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum]

Monday, October 17, 2016

Today in 1859: John Brown at Harpers Ferry

From the National Museum of American History:


Today in 1859: Abolitionist John Brown seizes the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, hoping to spark a slave uprising. This pike was among 950 pikes that John Brown acquired to arm slaves incited to rebel by his raid on Harpers Ferry.