Friday, April 18, 2014

18th Civil War Forum Conference (April 4-5, 2014) -- Ball's Bluff and Monocacy (Early's 1864 raid)

Fort Stevens, where Lincoln was almost shot. On the left, R. Keith Young, former Commander of the sub U.S.S. Silversides, and right, historian and author Dr. Benjamin Franklin Cooling

Point of Rocks, with the inimitable Rich Gillespie.
Jim Morgan, the authoritative Ball's Bluff historian at Fort Evans. 
Worthington House, Monocacy Battlefield

Worthington House, Monocacy Battlefield

Works by our Tour Guides:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Police blotter on the night Lincoln was killed

This Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department logbook for the night of April 14, 1865 recordsthe news of the Lincoln assassination in the bottom right-hand entry.
full story here

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Maryland man may have found two lost or forgotten photos of Lincoln’s funeral procession

From the Washington Post. . .
Mathew Brady/The National Archives - This quad photograph is believed to show President Abraham Lincoln's catafalque as a blur moving past Grace Episcopal Church on Broadway in New York on April 24 or 25, 1865. There were funeral ceremonies around the country for the slain president.

Read the full article here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Indiana University Press book sale

Good deals on some good books.

Monday, February 17, 2014

150 years ago: Hunley sinks the Housatonic

(CNN) -- Born and built amid gray-cloaked secrecy during the American Civil War, the H.L. Hunley — the first submarine to sink an enemy ship — has held tight to its murky mysteries. The 150th anniversary of the Hunley's daring and dangerous raid will be marked this weekend and Monday, but the overarching question remains: What caused the submarine and its eight-member crew to slip to the bottom of the sea on the moonlit evening of February 17, 1864, after it signaled to shore a success that changed naval warfare. Read the full article here.

For some thoughtful reflections on "The men lost on the U.S.S. Housatonic," see Robert Moore's February 17 Cenantua blog entry.

More "Thoughts on the U.S.S. Housatonic the the H.L. Hunley" can be found on Craig Swain's,
To The Sounds of the Guns blog.

And, of course, interesting information on the Confederate submarine is generously offered by the Friends of the Hunley.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Ball's Bluff and Monocacy -- 18th Civil War Forum Reunion

18th Civil War Forum Battlefield Conference
Ball’s Bluff, and Monocacy
(with a side trip to Antietam)

Leesburg, Virginia, April 3-6, 2014
Headquarters hotel:
Best Western Leesburg Hotel & Conference Center
726 E. Market Street
Leesburg, Virginia 20176

Registration is $285.  Registration will cover your seat on the bus (or other transportation, such as a ferry), entrance fees, box lunches for Friday and Saturday, and buffet dinner and presentation on Saturday evening.

Tour guides, speakers, and expert consultants
Jim Morgan, author of, A Little Short of Boats: The Civil War Battles of Ball's Bluff and Edwards Ferry, October 21 - 22, 1861 
B. F. Cooling, author of Monocacy, the Battle that Saved Washington, and The Day Lincoln Was Almost Shot: the Fort Stevens Story
Rich Gillespie, director of education for Mosby Heritage Area Association
Steve Meserve, gentleman, scholar, raconteur

Tentative Itinerary (subject to change):
Thursday, April 3, 1:00 p.m: optional afternoon outing by carpool: Antietam National Battlefield. We'll begin with a presentation by historian Ted Alexander at the Visitor Center, then make a couple stops on the battlefield with a NPS ranger to interpret
Thursday, April 3, 6:00 p.m: informal reception, check-in, programs, name tags (location to be announced); dinner on your own
Friday a.m., April 4: walking tour of historic Leesburg with Rich Gillespie, including visits to Harrison Hall (now known as the Glenfiddich House) where Lee stayed when he passed through town on his way to Maryland in 1862, and where he met with Longstreet, Stuart and Jackson before crossing the river. A short distance from there is the John Janney home, where Lee made his only social call while in town. Janney, I am sure you recall, came within a single vote of becoming President of the United States when John Tyler was chosen instead as Vice President to William Henry Harrison. He later served as President of the Virginia Secession Convention and was the man who offered Lee command of Virginia's troops in 1861. [The latter house is private, and requires special arrangements to tour — thanks to Steve Meserve for recommending these two stops and providing the historic background.]
Friday lunch: picnic on the grounds of Morven Park, one-time estate of Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis. The Executive Director will present a talk for us while we enjoy our lunches. 
Friday afternoon: visit to Fort Evans, then to Ball’s Bluff battlefield with Jim Morgan for detailed battlefield hikes (3-4 hours all told). 
Saturday a.m., April 5: Frederick, Maryland — visit to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and, if time permits, the Barbara Fritchie House
Saturday afternoon, April 5: Tour Monocacy battlefield, and visit Ft. Stevens with B. F. Cooling 

Saturday evening, April 5, 6:30-10:00 p.m, in the ballroom at Morven Park Mansion: reception from 6:30-7:00; buffet dinner at 7:00; after-dinner speaker at 8:00 p.m.
Guest speaker: Dr. Benjamin Franklin Cooling

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

‘History of the Slave South’ Online Course Taught by Penn’s Stephanie McCurry Starts Jan. 20

[press release]

In the world of the Internet, slavery and the American Civil War are explosive topics of debate, so Stephanie McCurry is preparing to be globally fact-checked by those with a passion for the subject matter. The University of Pennsylvania history professor and scholar will teach a 10-week, massive open online course, or MOOC, called “History of the Slave South.” It starts January 20.

So far, more than 10,000 people from around the world have signed up for the free, online course.

McCurry, a specialist in 19th century American history, with a focus on the South and the Civil War era and the history of women and gender, is the author of numerous articles and review essays as well as two books, including Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South.

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, she attended college in Canada before moving to the United States for graduate school. She says that her version of Civil War history is not a Southern history course offered by a Southerner but rather a course taught by an outsider.

“I’ve always thought that’s why my version of it was different and in some ways worth listening to,” she says. “It’s a gripping story in the making of the modern world, how slavery becomes so tied up in the generation of this enormous wealth by the 18th and 19th centuries, but is such a different way of producing wealth than we associate with modernity.”

For people who are not American and who don’t have direct national or ancestral connections to the South, McCurry’s “History of the Slave South” course will articulate what the stakes of slavery were in America.

She says that the course is a thematically concentrated version of what she teaches at Penn. Each week, students will view two online video lectures embedded with quiz questions. There will be weekly discussion questions. Documents and primary sources will be read, with new assignments given every two weeks.

McCurry says she believes that the time is right for a global online course on the slave South given the renewed dialogue spurred by the release of two major motion pictures. Last year’s “12 Years a Slave” and the 2012 film “Django Unchained” explored the brutality and horrors of slavery from the point of view of the enslaved.

McCurry recalls sitting in a theater in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia watching “12 Years a Slave” with a mixed, largely African-American audience. So powerful was the film that she felt silenced, needing to listen, not talk.

She wonders if people can talk about America’s slave history now because “we’ve hit this moment where people feel less directly implicated because they weren’t part of segregation, for example.”

At Penn, McCurry teaches a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in American, Southern and women's history and on the comparative history of slavery and emancipation.

A group of students enrolled in the online course have started a Facebook page and a SlaveSouth MOOCTwitter account @SlaveSouthMOOC. Course registration is available by clicking the Learn for Free banner at