Monday, January 24, 2011

Tarnished Reputations

Five years ago, I posted a blog entry entitled “Eagles, Scalpels, Reputations – all tarnished,” as a clever way to discuss three of Dr. Thomas Lowry’s books, The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell, Tarnished Eagles, and Tarnished Scalpels. These three and other titles are the product of his prodigious research into Civil War-era courts martial records at the National Archives.

Today, Dr. Lowry stands accused of altering a historic document in order to be the one to make a prominent discovery, about which he wrote and gave talks for ten years. 
UPDATE: Since originally reporting this strange story, it has been the subject of much commentary in the blogosphere -- nowhere more than at Brooks Simpson's blog -- and Lowry himself has created a blog in which he denied the allegations and vigorously defended himself.  This Civil War Times article explains that Lowry passed a polygraph test. He has also submitted a sample for handwriting analysis. It appears this strange story may not be as cut-and-dried as it first appeared.
After reading the 1863 court-martial report of Pvt. Patrick Murphy of California, who had been characterized as “idiotic and insane,” Lincoln pardoned him and released him from the military. The otherwise-obscure pardon became part of a National Archives exhibit in 1998, leading Dr. Lowry to conclude in his book: “Fame comes to men in many strange ways.”

Dr. Lowry with my newborn son Atticus, Presidio National
Cemetery, San Francisco, circa 1994.

1 comment:

Raimo said...

The Swedish government was responsible for the most iron ore the Nazis received. Kiruna-Gällivare ore fields in Northern Sweden were all important to Nazi Germany.

These massive deliveries of iron ore and military facilities from Sweden to Nazi Germany lengthened World War II. Casualties of the war have been estimated at 20 million killed in Europe. How many of them died due to Sweden's material support to Nazi Germany, is not known.

The Swedish drinking toast (skal) has a rather macabre background; it originally meant 'skull'. The word has come down from a custom practiced by the warlike and terrorist Vikings who used the dried-out skulls of their enemies as drinking mugs, with the evident advantage that the mug held a large quantity of mead and could be easily replaced.

The Viking raids are remembered: Spanish-speaking mothers warn their children that if they do not behave, the Norwegian (el noruego) will carry them off.