Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Reprising a favorite blog post (from 2006)

Lately I have been mining the transcripts of various author Q and A sessions held in the Civil War Forum over the past ten years, featuring 40-some guests, as I collect the material together into some web-friendly format. Here are a few juicy tidbits I came across this weekend.

One thing that I asked of nearly everyone, often the first question, was whether there was anything in their studies that surprised them, or caused them to rethink their understanding of a person, a battle, or event. I love the idea of a scholar or researcher making discoveries, or experiencing revelations, or epiphanies. Here are a few examples of answers to that question by Jeffry Wert, William Marvel, Scott Harwig, and John Simon. And for the fun of it, I've tagged a couple more quotes onto the end, by Terry Winschel and Richard McMurry, just to tweak the sensibilities of those students hopelessly stuck in the Eastern Theater. 

Jeffry Wert
, author, among other things, of books on Custer, and Longstreet, spoke with us on January 30. 1997.

Q. We'll start off with a question about Custer. Did you have any preconceived notions about George A. Custer that your research on the man caused you to rethink?

A. (Jeffry Wert): I probably had most of the preconceived ideas that most people had about Custer, and dealt with him in my first book, but now three things strike mereally changed with my research on Custer: 1) was his zest for life; 2) was the regard that his men held for him during the Civil War. I was surprised by the depth and the breath of it; and 3) was Little Big Horn, but that resulted from my lack of knowledge prior to it. My ideas on how it unfolded, and why he did certain things, changed considerably. We don't know all the answers, but his actions make sense -- not all of them, but numbers of them do. 

Q. I would like to ask a similar question about James Longstreet, Lee's "Old 
Warhorse." How did your understanding of the man evolve during the course of your research? 

A. (Jeffry Wert): I wish there had been more personal material, first of all, but they seem to have been destroyed in the fire that consumed his house after the war. But with that said, I found him to be a better general than I thought he would be. I think he was very much of a realist about war, far more than other Southern generals. Despite his post-war politics, most of the men who served under him never lost their respect or admiration for the man. And, finally, I was surprised at the dissension among the Army of Northern Virginia officer ranks, particularly among 1st Corps officers, in their perception of alleged favoritism towards Virginians.

William Marvel, author of Andersonville, The Last Depot, and many other titles. 

Q. During the course of your research on Andersonville, were there any 
discoveries or realizations that substantially changed your understanding of Civil War-era prisons, and prisoners? 

A. (William Marvel): Yes. Specifically, the degree to which the suffering on the Southern side was much less as a result of deliberate maltreatment than was originally thought. And also how much worse the treatment of Confederate prisoners by Union soldiers was, than was originally believednot that the Union guards were particularly malicious, but they were much more stern and tended to shoot much more frequently for minor infractions than I was led to believe by the rather cursory secondary works on the subject. 

And at Andersonville in particular I was impressed by the efforts that 
were made to meet the needs of the prisoners. It was generally believed that the Confederates tended to force the Union prisoners into such actions as crossing the dead line so they could be shotfor sport, virtuallyand that the prisoners were starved deliberately. In fact, only on a few occasions was food deliberately withheld from them, and most of their suffering resulted from the general poverty of the Confederate government. The only administration policy to withhold food from prisoners was actually exercised by Union prison authorities, in retaliation for the perceived deliberate starvation of their own prisoners in Confederate hands. 

D. Scott Hartwig
, then chief historian at Gettysburg National Military Park, joined us on Thursday, July 18, 1996:

Q. In your capacity as historian at the Gettysburg battlefield, I imagine 
you've had the opportunity to tramp all over that hallowed ground. Can you think of any discoveries you've made, or revelations you've had, which resulted from a more intimate knowledge of the topography of the battlefield?

A. (Scott Hartwig): Sure, lots of themthis would be the case with any battlefield that you're able to spend a lot of time on. When you can walk a field from many different angles and approaches, you learn the subtleties of the ground. When you start to understand those, the battle begins to become understandable, and you can fill in details that the soldiers who were there may not have mentioned. Last year I did a program on the attack of Laws' brigade on Little Round Top, and the Confederates all mentioned that Union sharpshooters were posted behind a stone wall, near the Slyder Farm, and I couldn't find the stone wall. There wasn't one, and I looked and looked and looked, and I kept walking down the line where the wall would have been, and there it was. I found the remnants of it. So there was confirmation, to me, that there had been a wall there, and that the wall had been removed after the warfor unknown reasons. That's just one example. 

John Y. Simon
, speaking on September 29, 2000, is the editor of the The Papers of U.S. Grant. 

Q. Dr. Simon, welcome. You've been editing "The Papers" since 1962. Are you getting tired of Grant yet, or still finding new information, or new sides to the man?

A. (John Simon)
 I've never thought that I understood the man fully, and for that reason I've never become tired of him. People don't ask you questions like that about your wife, and I've been married to her for a long time. Grant's a very real person, and one with many dimensions to him. There's still more to learn and I'm eager to do it. We're into the presidential years now, but I'm still fascinated by the Civil War period. And there are documents that we haven't found yet, but those that are coming to light, almost daily, cast new perspectives on Grant. 

Q. What do you think, based on your readings of his correspondence, may be the biggest misconceptions about Grant? Was there anything that you were surprised to learn, or which slowly changed your perception of him?

A. (John Simon)
 Well I've been increasingly impressed by what a good writer he is. He has the capacity to express what he's thinking in the clearest possible form. He's a maker of memorable phrases. One of our interesting discoveries many years ago was when he wrote the famous line about fighting it out on this line if it takes all summer, he originally wrote, "If it takes me all summer." Then he went back and crossed out the word "me." He's conscious of just who's doing that fighting, and knows that that word "me" is inappropriate. Normally, the words just flow out as they did in the celebrated letter that he wrote at Appomattox, but when necessary he revised what he was writing.

Bonus Stonewall had nothing on Grant question: 

Terry Winschel
, chief historian at Vicksburg National Military Park, joined us on December 5, 1996.

Q. How do you think Grant's movements from the time that he crossed the 
Mississippi till he invested Vicksburg compare with Stonewall Jackson's Valley campaign?

A. (Terry Winschel): Grant's movements after he crossed the Mississippi River were bold, decisive, and kept his opponent unbalanced, and in that regard compare quite favorable with Stonewall Jackson's movements in the Valley. They demonstrate that Grant was master of the situation, and was a bold and aggressive officer. In a 17-day period, Grant's army would push deep into Mississippi, encounter and defeat Confederate forces in five engagements, and drive Pemberton's army back into the city's fortifications.It is a brilliant campaign that is studied by professional soldiers to this date, and Grant's campaign for Vicksburg is highlighted in the chapter on offensive operations in the army's current field manual FM100-5. 

 Gettysburg is fascinating-but-irrelevant question:

Richard McMurry
, author of Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History, speaking with us on Thursday, August 1, 1996

Q. Thank you for being with us tonight. In your book Two Great Rebel Armies, and elsewhere, you have made the pointconvincingly, I thinkthat the war was won and lost in the West. I wonder if you would start us off this evening with a summary of that argument, for the benefit of any Virginia-centric members who may be in attendance.

A. (Richard McMurry): I think the best way to answer that is just to ask people to look at a map, and to ask where the armies were in 1861, 1862 1863, 1864, 1865. If you do that you will see that the armies that started out in 1861 in Missouri and Kentucky were in Tennessee, Mississippi in 1862 and 1863. They were in Georgia in 1864. They were in the Carolinas in 1865. And where were the armies that started out in Virginia in 1861? Or to put it another way, the Federal armies captured, if memory serves me correctly, 9 of the 11 Confederate state capitals. The western armies captured 8 of them, including Columbia, South Carolina and Raleigh, North Carolina, which means that at the end of the war, the western Union armies were about 160 to 170 miles from Richmond. What it amounts to is that Western battles and campaigns produced results. Eastern battles and campaigns produced stalemates. And I would just summarize it all by saying that no battle fought east of the Appalachian Mountains had any military impact on the outcome of the war.

Civil War Christmas gifts

General Sherman to President Lincoln
(Telegram offering Savannah, Georgia as a Christmas present)
—transcription of above—

December 22, 1864
 Dec 25 Dec. 25, 1864.

Savannah Ga Dec 22. 1864 
Via Ft. Monroe Va Dec 25.

I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah with 150 heavy guns & plenty of ammunition & also about 25.000 bales of cotton.

W. T. Sherman
Major Genl

Friday, December 07, 2012

Charity Snider's mole skin

Letter from Charity Snider, with accompanying mole skin, from her Civil War Widow's Pension Application File. Discoloration on the paper is from the mole skin. (WC843258, Record Group 15), National Archives.
In order to receive a pension, Civil War widows had to prove that they had actually been married to a soldier. Marriage records were far less consistent in the past than they are today, which explains why Charity Snider ended up sending the pressed skin of a dead mole to the federal government. Read the full Slate article here. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The President is taller than General Grant, and still growing. . .

This just in. . . the General Grant tree in Sequoia National Park, once considered the 2nd largest tree in the world (after the nearby General Sherman tree), has been relegated to the 3rd spot on the list. A still-growing youngster -- the 3,240-year-old giant sequoia known as The President – has moved up to the number 2 slot.

I wrote about the General Grant, General Sherman, and Lincoln tree back in June of 2006. You can read that here.  A fine article from Yahoo News on the ascendancy of The President can be read here.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Carto-geeks are cool

by Tony Horwitz

Smithsonian Ingenuity Award Winner, Anne Kelly Knowles
"A red dot denotes General Lee’s vantage point from the top of the Lutheran Seminary. His field of vision shows as clear ground, with blind spots shaded in deep indigo. Knowles has even factored in the extra inches of sightline afforded by Lee’s boots. “We can’t account for the haze and smoke of battle in GIS, though in theory you could with gaming software,” she says."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Construction Site Offers Fleeting Glimpse of the Civil War Past [Fredericksburg]

Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
Archaeologists in Fredericksburg, Va., last week. On the site of a $35 million courthouse complex, they have excavated artifacts buried since an 1862 battle.

Published: November 11, 2012
-- read the full article here.

Better off without 'em

These are certainly interesting times for political discourse in this country. Who could have foreseen that “legitimate rape” would become a presidential campaign issue, or the sesquicentennial sentiments of an Arkansas politician commenting, in 2012, about how lucky the descendants of slaves are to have had their ancestors brought to America in chains (the old blessing-in-disguise argument). And now, some of our disgruntled fellow citizens have raised the specter of secession again, because they reject the results of a democratic election. That sounds familiar.

The release  of Better Off Without 'Em, A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, by Chuck Thompson (Simon & Schuster: New York), couldn't be more timely. I've downloaded it to my Kindle today and will likely comment on portions of it as my reading progresses.

There are many reviews of Thompson’s book out there, but this is a good one to start with (originally published on Daily Kos, Sunday, October 14, 2012).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Daniel Day-Lewis Does Lincoln

 feels like a movie Steven Spielberg has always been fated to make. Of course these two figures were bound to collide at some point: the most mythic of American presidents and the most myth-making of American  filmmakers. The values Abraham Lincoln has come to represent in the collective imagination—freedom, equality, justice, mercy—are the same values Spielberg has spent a career celebrating and not infrequently sentimentalizing."

Slate review

Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln -- Photo by David James – © 2012 - DreamWorks II Distribution Co. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Great Hanging at Gainesville

Hanging of Union Men in Texas. Frank Leslie's Ilustrated Newspaper.
Prints and Photographs Collection 1993/202-5-4. 
Another fascinating post from the New York Times's Disunion blog (October 16, 2012). . .

On Oct. 12, a cold Sunday morning in Gainesville, the mob had enough of the deliberations inside and stormed the courtroom, demanding a list of the men on trial; the jury complied and handed over the names of 14 of them, chosen at random; all were hanged the next day, under the supervision of Young (coincidentally, three days later he was killed by bandits preying along the Red River).

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Civil War at the Huntington (through January 7)

The Huntington commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a new exhibition centered solely on its Civil War imagery, complemented by a companion exhibition of manuscript material providing narrative context. Events, lectures, a special exhibition site, articles, audio, videos, and a Living History Day all contribute to The Civil War at The Huntington, a deeper look at the complicated war that took the lives of three quarters of a million people.  

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Modoc War correction: not 3 generals' sons. Make that 2 generals' sons and a nephew

About two years ago, I posed a question about something that three Civil War generals had in common. Later, I answered that question with a post about the fourth battle of the 1873 Modoc War, a field preserved today at Lava Beds National Monument as the Thomas-Wright battlefield. In that legendary blog post, I asserted that the sons of three Civil War generals were killed on that battlefield. But Eric Johnson, author of the brand new book pictured at top, informed me that one of those three -- Albion Howe -- was, in fact, a nephew of the Civil War general Albion Parris Howe. I think he's right, and am happy to post a correction.

First installment of Hartwig's Antietam study released

I first heard that D. Scott Hartwig was working on a monumental campaign study of Antietam so many years ago, I had actually forgotten about the project, or assumed it had been abandoned. Not so! Volume one is now available from Johns Hopkins University Press, and sets the stage with an examination of McClellan's return to the Army of the Potomac, the capture of Harpers Ferry, and the all-day fight for control of the South Mountain passes. Can't wait to read this one. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Death and the Civil War" -- September 18th

Tomorrow evening, September 18, 2012, will see the debut of a new documentary,
Death and the Civil War, an installment of PBS’s outstanding “American Experience” series. It is the work of filmmaker Ric Burns, brother of the more widely known documentarian, Ken Burns. Like many bloggers, I received an advance review copy of the documentary, and like them, I would encourage everyone to make time for this compelling production.

To get some sense of the subject matter, try a little exercise. Imagine if the United States today -– in a four-year period –- were to suffer the same percentage of deaths as the nation endured during the Civil War. In today’s terms, and based on a recently updated death toll from the war, the total deaths would number 7,000,000. Yes, seven million.

The program’s content sprung in large measure from the book, The Republic of Suffering, by Drew G. Faust, one of the most intriguing, scholarly releases in recent years. Fittingly, the film is being broadcast a day after the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Antietam, an epic clash of arms that still stands as the single most costly battle in American history.

The presentation will be familiar to everyone, colored as it is by camera and atmospheric effects that have become more or less an industry standard. As reviewer Megan Kate Nelson pointed out, Apple’s iMovie application actually features a “Ken Burns” button, allowing users to reproduce the effect of panning across or zooming in and out of a still image. Though some would say it's overused, it remains a mesmerizing technique, particularly with the masterful collection of images assembled for this work. 

The scope of the carnage at Antietam is difficult to appreciate from our distant vantage point, and the bucolic landscapes of that battlefield park today belie any tangible sense of the death and destruction visited upon the ground in 1862. But the dead at Antietam changed everything, beginning with the public exhibition of Alexander Gardner’s photographs in Mathew Brady’s New York City studio. Gardner’s graphic Antietam photographs, widely featured in Death and the Civil War, began to bring the war home. Speaking of the photo exhibition, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “The sight of these pictures is a commentary on civilization such as the savage might well triumph to show its missionaries.”

While Antietam can be said to be a microcosm of the war as a whole, this film ambitiously examines the effect on the nation of the exponentially larger casualties resulting from a four-year bloodbath. The United States was ill-equipped -– emotionally, and in terms of infrastructure or policy (even policies regarding such basic things as notifying the next of kin)  -– to handle casualties of such magnitude, and Ric Burns has given us a powerful look at how Americans of all stripes coped with widespread mortality.

Burns opens the film with a heart-wrenching, blood-splattered letter from a Mississippi soldier who was mortally wounded at Spotsylvania Court House – a boy writing a final farewell to his father. History is especially gripping when told through the words of those who lived it, and this boy’s letter memorably sets a somber tone for a film exploring how the nation – the government itself, and the citizenry, wholly unprepared -- was transformed by loss of life on a scale previously unimagined.

A preview and other information can be seen here

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A crossroads near the farm of Charles Monroe, deep in the heart of Fort Bragg

Last March, a number of regulars from the CompuServe Civil War Forum made a visit to the North Carolina battlefield of Monroe's Crossroads for a tour with historian Mark Bradley (who also conducted a tour of Bentonville the following day). Access to Monroe's Crossroads is complicated by the fact that it is situated deep inside the grounds of Fort Bragg, and subject to overshot from live fire ranges. Each of these photos needed to be reviewed and approved by the U.S. army before permission was given to post them on my blog, and at the Forum website.

Mark Bradley secured permission for our bus, and enlisted Charles Heath, an archaeologist with Fort Bragg's Cultural Resources Program, to escort us and aid in interpretation of the site. From a preservation standpoint—because of its location—Monroe's Crossroad's remains more or less unchanged from its 1865 condition. It is the final resting place for cavalrymen on both sides of the fight.

For quick reference, there is a compact narrative of events and archaeological report, along with excellent maps, online here. For in-depth reading, you can do no better than Eric Wittenberg's, The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final Campaign, and Mark Bradley's, The Battle of Bentonville, Last Stand in the Carolinas (which treats Averasboro and Monroe's Crossroads in good detail).

Mark Bradley, right, gives us our bearings.

Charles Heath and Mark Bradley

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Broderick-Terry duel, 1859

The last duel in San Francisco occurred 153-years-ago today, when anti-slavery Senator David C. Broderick squared off with former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, pro-slavery firebrand David S. Terry, along the shoreline of Lake Merritt. Broderick became the first sitting senator to die in a duel.

There’s a great article with some cool illustrations on the Anchor Steam blog today. I wrote about it in a blog entry three years ago (read that here). The Broderick-Terry duel occurred a full month before John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and illustrates the trans-continental nature of what William Henry Seward in 1858 called the "irrepressible conflict."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Does the governor of New Mexico hate The Boy General?

Col. George Armstrong Custer (Courtesy Wikipedia.org); Pat Rogers, Republican National Committee leader (Courtesy Modrall.com); Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M. (Courtesy governor.state.nm.us)

It's almost too bizarre for words. Pat Rogers, a leader in the Republican National Committee, complained to the staff of the governor of New Mexico that by meeting with representatives of some Native American tribes (she is required by law to attend the annual state-tribal leaders summit), the governor has "dishonored Col. Custer."

Read all about it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

BBC America's, "Copper" series

From a New York Times review:
"Ostensibly the new series is about a former boxer and Civil War veteran turned police detective, Kevin Corcoran (played by Tom Weston-Jones), an Irish immigrant who returns to the Five Points after serving in the Union Army’s 71st Regiment to find his daughter dead and his wife missing. New York is really the main character."
 I heard about this program at the last minute, after seeing mention of it on a Facebook history page, and tuned in just in time for the premier episode. I found it rather gripping, and the atmosphere of the lower Manhattan, 1863 ghetto to be powerfully presented. It's a dark and dreary place, with a frontier feel, as suffocating, dim, and polluted as Ridley Scott's magnificent portrayal of a futuristic Los Angeles in Blade Runner. And so far, so good on the acting and writing. I hereby declare Copper to be "very promising."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

WKUK: The American Civil War on Drugs

Taken from season 5 of The Whitest Kids U' Know, a full movie
is constructed about the American Civil War on Drugs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The westernmost casualties of Vicksburg?

Downieville is one of the best preserved of the enduring California Gold Rush towns, and one of the northernmost of the Mother Lode mining camps, situated on Highway 49 at the confluence of the Downie River and north fork of the Yuba River. It is the seat of Sierra County, and was named for Major William Downie, a Scotsman who was the town's first mayor (a historic marker in town claims that Downie promised to throw a bag of gold dust into the street if they would name the town for him).

Upper Sardine Lake, and Sierra Buttes
(photo Aug. 5, 2012, by DW)
My first Sierra camping trip was on the North Yuba, just south of Downieville, and for the first time in many, many years I returned to the area last weekend for a brief visit. Nearby Sardine Lakes and the Sierra Buttes are even more beautiful than I remembered.
I had forgotten about "Cannon Point," however, a memorial to Company K of the Sixth California Infantry (National Guard), formed in 1863 and headquartered in Downieville. Last Sunday I made a point to photograph the spot.

This cannon arrived in Downieville on July 1, 1862 (the same day as the culminating battle of the Seven Days Campaign, at Malvern Hill outside of Richmond), purchased by a Downieville surgeon. The 12-pounder was hauled out for ceremonial occasions, and sadly was the source of some casualties among the Sixth. A "premature discharge" (already you're wincing) killed two men in May of 1863. I've read at least two sources now (no doubt one copying the other) which have described the occasion of the accident as a celebration of the capture of Vicksburg, but the fact that it occurred on May 27, 1863, over a month before Vicksburg surrendered, indicates that someone published an error that has subsequently been perpetuated on the internet (and will continue to be until the end of time, or the end of electricity).

All sources I've encountered thus far, though, are in agreement that two men were killed. To wit, this source, quoting a newspaper account:

"By the premature discharge of a cannon fired in honor of the capture of Vicksburg, from the bluffs below town, Lieutenant M. M. Knox and Second Lieutenant William A. Donaldson were horribly mangled and killed. Knox was blown down the declivity two hundred feet, while Donaldson had his eyes blown out, his wrists torn off, and was otherwise mutilated.” 
 The account of the accident is related in, History of Plumas, Lassen and Sierra Counties, California, Fariss and Smith, 1882, page 461.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Boonsborough Museum of History

Ranger Mannie, on his blog, My Year of Living Rangerously, has posted an interesting photo gallery of some of the treasures in the local Boonsborough Museum of History, located a short distance from the Antietam National Battlefield.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Confederate Invasion of Iowa

The "invasion"? Really? The text of a historical marker in Bloomfield, Iowa, just above the Missouri border, reads:

Site of the Confederate Invasion of Iowa, 12th Day of October, 1864. This monument marks the northern most point of incursion into Iowa by Confederate Forces. On October 12, 1864, Lieutenant James “Bill” Jackson led twelve heavily armed Missouri Partisan Rangers dressed in Union uniforms in a raid through Davis County, Iowa, resulting in the murder of three local citizens. • This Plaque Dedicated in 2005 • Davis County Civil War Guerrilla Raid Society.
An associated plaque, installed by the SCV, makes the claim that: "Confederate Partisan Rangers came from Missouri to this point, the Furthermost North of any Confederate Incursion During the Civil War."

The incomparable Historical Marker Database records the Bloomfield marker at 40° 44.5′ N. The good folks near Salineville, Ohio have a marker, too. And though it's only as far north as 40° 37.228′ N, they claim the northernmost distinction as well. The Ohio marker reads:
Here, on July 26, 1863 occurred the northernmost engagement of Confederate forces during the Civil War. In this immediate area, troops under Major General John H. Morgan, C.S.A., and General James Shackelford, U.S.A., met in full engagement. After evading Union troops, Morgan’s forces were re-formed at Norristown, from whence they proceeded to West Point, where Morgan surrendered his command.
I think you have to give the nod to Salineville, since Morgan's Raiders were full-fledged CSA units detached from a Confederate army before making their monumental raid. The Iowa incursion, by contrast, sounds more like a gang, even resorting to the use of disguise. We won't even entertain notions about the St. Albans, Vermont raid (bank robbers!), or naval actions.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

McPherson on The Rock

I borrowed this from the Alacatraz Facebook page (yes, of course they have a Facebook page). Here's a letter from James McPherson -- a great favorite of Grant and Sherman -- six years before his death, while commanding the Army of the Tennessee, at the July 22, 1864 Battle of Atlanta.
On December 31, 1857 James Birdseye McPherson was put in charge of the fortifications on Alcatraz. At the end of his first month he wrote to a friend in Wilmngton, Delaware, describing his lonely assignment:
Alcatraces Island
San Francisco Harbor Cal.
Feby 4th 1858

My dear "Major,"

Perched upon. a little rock Island the summit of which is One hundred and forty feet above the water and while watching the sun as he dips into the broad Pacific, or listening to the never ceasing roar of the breakers dashing against the rocks, I often think of my position one year ago, and instinctively draw a comparison between it and my present one--Candor compels me to state that in everything appertaining to the social amenities of life the "Pea Patch" (Fort Delaware) is preferable to "Alcatraz" and were it not, that being here in charge of this work is very gratifying to my professional pride I should regret the change deeply, as it is all my pride is scarcely sufficient at ties to keep my spirits up--though I am determined to make the best of the matter, looking forward joyfully to the time when I can return to the Atlantic States.

I have made but few acquaintances as yet in San Francisco, though I go over every Saturday evening and remain until Monday morning, and frequently at other times during the week when I get tired of playing the hermit--Fate or circumstances, or perhaps both combined have arranged it so that I am doomed to live on Islands, and though it may sound very poetical in the distance to speak of the "Gems of the Pacific" and all this manner of thing, I have not attained that sublime height of sentimentality, which places me above the practical unromantic incidents of every day life, and consequently hear something besides music in the deep sea's roar, especially as I get a good wetting about every third tie I go over to Town--San Francisco beats all the cities I have ever been in, in the way of Drinking Saloons, Billiard Tables, Cigar Stores and idle men "loafers" genteelly dressed, and if you happen accidentally (sic) to make the acquaintance of one of them, before you are aware of it, you will be introduced to any number more--for they have the greatest way of introducing folks I have ever seen-- I often congratulate myself when I am in Town, that I have a place to flee to, where the air is pure and where I can avoid meeting people whom I do not care to know-- for the more of them you know the worse you are off . . . .

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Antietam from an Oktokopter

. . . found at Brooks Simpson's Crossroads blog: This video of Antietam National Battlefield was acquired on July 5th, 2012 using an Oktokopter XL and dual GoPro cameras (click on the image to go to the video).