Saturday, October 24, 2009

OHP BOOK REVIEW: THE CIVIL WAR HANDBOOK, HOW TO DRESS, TALK, EAT AND COMMAND LIKE A CONFEDERTE CAPTAIN BY ROBIN ROBINSON


Novel, illustrated, endnotes, 60 pp., 2007. Independent Publisher Group, 814 Highland Drive, Sandy, Utah 84093, $12.95 plus shipping.

Has your son or daughter ever played dress-up? The young ladies usually want to be princesses or belles of the ball, while young men elect to be soldiers or cowboys. This precious time in their life is a very impressionable period where parents and other adults are heroes and have all the answers.

Robin Robinson conceived a great idea when she decided to write The Civil War Handbook, How to Dress, Talk, Eat and Command Like a Confederate Captain. This concept to give young people a book to help fuel their imagination and play time is priceless. Enclosing pictures within the pages allows real images to take the place of the made-up ones the child had visualized. Using soldiers’ actual words from letters and diaries help to tell the tale of that time.

Even though this is a children’s book, much research is need to portray the soldier correctly. This is where Ms. Robinson neglected her duty as a writer. She states many untruths, such as the Confederate States of America was formed upon the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. Lincoln was elected as President in November of 1860 and the Confederacy was not formed until February 1861, three months later. Also she states that the correct term for the union of Southern states is “United States of the Confederacy.” Many other of her facts seem far-fetched and very unlikely. Without a bibliography or footnotes, it is hard to determine where she got her information.

The title of this book eludes that the information found within its pages would be about Confederate men serving their country. However, majority of the quotes are from Union soldiers, not Confederate. In fact Ms. Robinson uses very little Confederate references for any of her topics. In her listings of favorite songs for Southern boys, she does not list Dixie or the Bonnie Blue Flag. She lists Harper’s Weekly as a favorite read for soldiers but forgets to state it was mainly read by Northern armies. In the South there were many ladies that could have been highlighted in the section pertaining to women, yet Ms. Robinson chooses to write about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Even the pictures illustrating this manuscript are normally Yankees.

Ms. Robinson preys on the pocketbooks of the consumer by misleading them to the information she has published in her book. She asks for payment for a job where she has done little creditable research on Confederate soldiers. I hope all parents and grandparents avoid this book, no matter how tempting the title makes it.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW: GENERATIONS OF WARRIORS BY PERRY SHORT


Novel, illustrated, 545 pp., 2007. Arbor House, 1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403.

Generations of Warriors is a novel written by Perry Short about the events that lead up to and the Battle of Chickamauga. There are five primary characters, Spillsby Dryer of Walker County, Georgia, Thomas Benton Johnson of Morgan County, Alabama, Henry and Jabez Massey of Claiborne Parrish, Louisiana, and Drewy B. Short of Columbia County, Arkansas. They are among the 132,000 soldiers who will become a part of history. The key players of this battle are well known by historians, such as General Braxton Bragg and General Nathan Bedford Forrest; yet, this novel explores the life of the average soldiers who fight for many different reasons. “As most historical novels, it’s about what did happen and what could have been said,” states Mr. Short.

The reader sees the mental struggle a soldier had dealing with his duty to his country and his family, especially when close to home. In addition to this, the fear of survival was eminent daily. However, the main characters were more concerned with the welfare of his family more then himself, pondering if the war had made it to their doorsteps or if the family had been able to survive adequately.

There are several main story threads that take place simultaneously, intertwining with the other at some point. The reader is taken from Virginia, Tennessee, Atlanta and ultimately to Northwest Georgia. The novel engages the reader to continue the saga taking place. The characters are varying in age and personality, complimenting one other to establish a believable tale.

This is not another book about the battle, but more about the hardships of the soldiers and the citizens. The reader is exposed to the families who lived in and around the battlefield, with the Dryer family being the focal point. Faced with sometimes impossible circumstances, the reader sees these people coming together to handle the nightmare before them. In the Dryer family you have three generations of perspectives: Monroe who is ten, his father Spillsby who, at the age of thirty-five, is a soldier and scout for General Bragg, and Dr. Dryer is a pillar of the community at the age of sixty-four.

An interesting caveat of this historical fiction is that the five primary characters were real people. At the end, Mr. Short gives a brief genealogical history of the individual and their families. In many cases there is a picture of the actual person.

This is a great book to expose individuals to War Between the States. It allows a person to visualize a very bloody battle, but consider the feelings of the people involved. There are many punctuation errors and other grammatical issues. While this does not take away from the story, it does stand out to the reader. Overall, this is a great rainy day book to allow a person to lapse into history and away from today’s world.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW: GEORGIA'S CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS WHO DIED AS PRISONERS OF WAR 1861-1865 BY JAMES STALLINGS


Usually when someone hears the phrase “War Between the States POW Camps,” the first thought is normally of the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp Sumter, or more commonly known as Andersonville. Andersonville was built in February 1864 for 10,000 prisoners, but it eventually had around 45,000 men held within its walls. Captain Henry Wirz was appointed commandant of Camp Sumter in March of 1864. He ultimately would be tried and convicted of “conspiracy and murder” due to his command at Andersonville. During the 14 month existence, 28% of the Union prisoners, or approximately 12,910, is reported to have died. These numbers are staggering, but in many Northern books, it is never mentioned that Captain Wirz begged for food, medical supplies, and other provisions for the Northern prisoners. He was aware of the inadequate state of affairs, but had no way to fix the problem. The Confederate State government at this time was destitute and unable to even feed its own army. The blockade had taken its toll on the Southland. The United States refused to help their men for numerous political reasons. So Captain Wirz utilized what meager rations he could, which were the same for the prisoners as they were for the guards. Yet, Capt. Wirz was hung in the end.

For many who have studied this case, it is evident that Capt. Wirz was not given a fair trial. The politicians had to have someone to “answer” for all the deaths in Andersonville, so they found their scapegoat in Capt. Wirz. The public was pacified and the blood was off the hands of those that were responsible for the deaths. An innocent man died.

But what about the Northern POW camps? According to Georgia’s Confederate Soldiers Who Died as Prisoners of War 1861-65 by James Stallings, there were approximately 106 US prisons varying in size, used to incarcerate both political and military prisoners; however, the book discusses only nine main ones: Alton Federal Military Prison in Illinois, Camp Chase United States Prison in Ohio, Camp Chemung (Elmira) United States Prison in New York, Camp Douglas United States Prison in Illinois, Camp Hoffman (Point Lookout) United States Prison in Maryland, Camp Morton United States Prison in Indiana, Fort Delaware United States Prison in Delaware, Johnson’s Island Confederate Stockade in Ohio, and Rock Island Prison Barracks in Illinois.

Mr. Stallings’ research exposes the reader to the atrocities that take place within the walls of Northern prisons. He uses primary sources, from Northern viewpoints when possible, to describe the daily occurrences. The details included in the writings allow the reader to visualize the cruelty that occurs to Confederate soldiers. The sad truth is that Southern men died senseless deaths at the hands of Federal soldiers.

Many times the numbers recorded of those incarcerated and/ or interred at Northern POW camps were not accurate, if records were kept at all. Mr. Stallings tries to give the most precise figures, and notates when there are numerous accounts that differ from one another.

One aspect that Mr. Stallings reveals that majority of Federal POW camps had polluted water and improper drainage. In fact, Alton Federal Military Prison was a state penitentiary that was closed due to drainage issues, but the Federal government overlooked this aspect and placed Confederate prisoners in Alton. This issue would have dire affects on the quality of life for the captives.

Another concern for the prisoners was the extreme winters in the North, and the lack of clothes for the men. In one account it is stated that the detainees barley had shirts on their backs. In many of the camps outside gifts were forbidden, or limited. This was detrimental for the Southern men. There were times that the temperature was well below zero. Col. Robert Webb wrote, “Water froze in our canteens under our heads (being used as a pillow). I was afraid to walk from one end of the enclosure to the other for fear my blood would congeal and I would freeze to death.” Many of the buildings had been hastily constructed, with the workmanship being poor. Cracks in the walls and floors made it impossible to properly heat the buildings.

Food, in a land of plenty, was scarce in the camps. It is even reported that in a few prisons starvation was a used means to torture the prisoners. With the lack of food, especially fruits and vegetables, scurvy became an issue. Many times sutlers were not allowed to sell the needed food to the men who were lucky enough to have money. Dr. Wyeth of the 4th Alabama Cavalry best expresses the situation. “My comrades died by the hundreds amid healthful surroundings, almost all of these from the effects of starvation, and this in the midst of plenty. The official records show that at Camp Morton 12,082 prisoners were confined, of which number 1,763, or 14.6 percent perished. Excepting the few shot by the guards, the deaths from wounds were rare. The conditions were not malarial, for Indianapolis was not unhealthy. There were no epidemics during my imprisonment of about 15 months, and little cause for death had humane and reasonable care of the prisoners been exercised.”

General Grant is quoted as saying that he was against prisoner release because the Southern men would go back to their ranks and re-enlist. So instead, the Federal government kept them in concentration camps to starve and mistreat. Death is to be expected in small numbers; yet, the death rate in these Federal POW camps is appalling. Capt. Wirz was tried due to the atrocities of Andersonville, but no one was held accountable for Elmira.

Georgia’s Confederate Soldiers Who Died as Prisoners of War 1861-65 is ideal for those who would like to know more about the most infamous Northern Prisoner of War camps. In addition to the narratives about the history of the prisons, Mr. Stallings gives a listing of the known Georgians who perished and were to never return home to their loved ones. This added documentation is beneficial to genealogists and historians alike.

In closing, Sgt. George M. Brosheer, Landis Co, Missouri Light Artillery states, “And let not those who survive this struggle, forget those brave ones who languished, suffered and died, in those loathsome dens of many woes – they are indeed deserving of martyr’s crowns.”

By Cassie barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW: FORWARD THE COLORS BY LEON PUISSEGUR


Non-fiction, 82 pp., 2006. Publishamerica, www.PublishAmerica.com.

Myths about a wide range of issues pertaining to the War Between the States circulate and are presented as facts to school children and the general population. Forward the Colors discusses many of these topics and presents a different side then what the average person is accustomed to seeing.

The book first examines the history of the Confederate Battle Flag, dispelling the negative ideas that surround it. An in depth review of why General Beauregard commissioned the flag shows the reader it was not created to be a symbol of hate. In fact the author condemns certain hate groups for the abuse of the embattled emblem.

To understand slavery, the author introduces the reader to the origins of American slavery. Facts, such as Mr. Anthony Johnson, a free black man who actually made slavery legal in the British colony of Virginia, are brought to light. By looking at the beginning to the end of slavery, the reader is able to better understand history through the eyes of that period of time.

The average American is taught about Abraham Lincoln, the myth, but Mr. Puissegur tells the reader about Abraham Lincoln, the real man. One section reviews Lincoln and Congress’s stance on the Crittenden Compromise. The author also brings forward the various different 13th amendments that were debated before the final one was approved. Many views and opinions of Lincoln that are left out of most textbooks are presented so that the reader is able to see what the President of the United States felt about the South, slavery and many other issues prevalent to that era in his own words.

The real reason for the War Between the States and other facts are revealed also. While revisionist historians state slavery was the only reason for the war, Forward the Colors looks at how a free South would impact the economics of the North. This is considered the main reason for the North to invade a peaceful South. There are other minor reasons noted, like the “philosophical and theological” differences between the North and South.

The NAACP and the KKK are exposed as the hate groups they are. Mr. Puissegur quotes the written history, objectives and mission statements of these organizations. By doing this, he shows the irregularities in both. They are condemned as enemies of Southern history and the reader is warned of their forked tongue approach to the liberal media.

The theory of this book is excellent. A practical book that is compact but has the answers and reasoning behind many arguments facing people who support the true history of the War Between the States; however, the main downfall to this publication is the lack of footnotes and a bibliography. Many quotes are used but references of the sources are not noted. On some occasions primary sources are not used, while the Internet is the only reference. In a debate, this book would be a good start on how to format your argument. Another book or reference would be required to state the location of the quotes and statements.

Though this book lacks some essential qualities, a reader may be intrigued to look deeper into particular arguments. Again, the negative delusion of Sothern history is common in today’s society, and Forward the Colors gives answers to these fables by the revisionist historians and media.

By Cassie A. Barrow

Friday, October 16, 2009

OHP BOOK REVIEW: I KNEW FRANK... I WISH I HAD KNOWN JESSE," FAMILY, FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS IN THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE JAMES BOYS BY SAMUEAL ANDERSON

The book entitled “I Knew Frank…I Wish I Had Known Jesse,” Family, Friends and Neighbors in the Life and Times of the James Boys by Samuel Anderson Pence received the John Newman Edwards Literary Award in 2008. Frank James, Donnie Pence and Bud Pence fought under Quantrill’s Partisan command during their youth. Alexander Doniphan “Donnie” Pence and Thomas Edward “Bud” Pence were the great uncles of Samuel Pence. The author knew all three of these men who had been guerrillas.

On Page 456 & 457: “He (attorney J.M. Smith) was shot by a Federal soldier he had never seen, and the reason was never known. This was one of many reasons why there were guerrillas in Missouri to avenge such murders.”

This book verifies my contention that much Kentucky blood fertilized the fields, woods and hills of Missouri during our War for Southern Independence. On Page 265: “Clay County was just a transplanted chunk of Kentucky blue grass, and if there ever was a successful grafting and transfusion, time has proven this one to be.”

Samuel Pence was a walking encyclopedia of genealogy concerning the folks who settled his hometown of Kearney, Missouri. His own family tree was composed of the Pence and Anderson families who had migrated west to Missouri from Kentucky.

The author’s great grandfather, Adam Pence, was an early Clay County pioneer. The James and Pence farms were situated near each other. Samuel Pence knew Cole Younger and Jim Cummins as well as many less well-known Clay County residents. The author’s father, Samuel Adam Pence, had operated a drug store in Kearney.

Typical of small towns everywhere, local residents were tagged with nicknames for a lifetime, jokes were played and stories were repeated around the dinner table or “loafing” places. Samuel Pence was a talented reporter of these hometown events.

Both the mother and father of Frank and Jesse were natives of Kentucky. Their mother, the long suffering Zerelda Cole James, was educated at St. Catherine’s school in Lexington, Kentucky. The father of the boys, Robert James, attended Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, and became a preacher in Missouri. The stepfather of the James boys, Reuben Samuel, was a medical doctor from Owen County, Kentucky.

Within Frank and Jesse pulsed the blood of the aristocrat, not the diluted blood of the dregs of society. It is reported that Frank James often quoted Shakespeare to the surprise of some of his detractors. On Page 29: “He read Shakespeare and what one reads will show sooner or later in ones speech. His ancestors probably have a higher IQ rating than most of his deriders of the arched-eyebrow and disdainful set.”

The author unwinds all the tangled blood relationships within the James family. He connects all the dots between half brothers, half sisters, cousins, half aunts and uncles. It is quite a knot to unravel and understand.

After the War for Southern Independence ended, Frank and Jesse realized that the only thing that could be guaranteed upon their surrender to the authorities would be a hangman’s noose. The author covers various robberies the James boys were accused of committing. He explains the reasoning used for the Northfield, Minnesota, bank robbery while leaving the reader unsure whether Frank and Jesse participated. Several chapters record the lives of the Younger brothers and their time spent in jail after being captured.

Life on the run came to an end in 1882 after Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden, a native of Shelby County, Kentucky, placed a large financial reward upon the capture of the James boys. This led to the murder of Jesse and the surrender of Frank that year.

The reason the James boys had not been caught sooner was blamed upon the fact that the area around Kearney was full of their relatives. On Page 35: “Some Clay County citizens thought that Patton (the sheriff) did not press down on his saddle stirrups hard enough to get his speedometer to register the necessary MPH to diminish his distance from the James Boys in a chase. Too much kin, it was thought; fear was not a factor.”

Today, the author’s two great uncles are buried in the Stoner Chapel Cemetery near to Samuels, Kentucky. They both followed the great Quantrill into Kentucky in January, 1865. Donnie and Bud were able to safely surrender at Samuels Depot after the War was over. Both brothers married Samuels sisters and became good citizens. Donnie Pence served as the sheriff of Nelson County for many years. Bud also served as a lawman.

Samuel Pence wrote his manuscript on a manual typewriter and completed it about 1960. His attempts to have it published were not fruitful. Samuel’s grandson, Daniel M. Pence, is to be commended for editing and having this wonderful book published in 2007.

The author had a knack for the retelling of humorous events that will make you laugh out loud. On Page 164: “…and if he made money he felt like getting drunk on account of his success, and if he lost money, he felt like getting drunk to drown his sorrow, so regardless of making or losing, he always got a drunk out of it.”

This book is a valuable resource for those interested in the Kentucky/Missouri guerrillas and their many convoluted Gordian Knot blood relationships to one another. “I Knew Frank…I Wish I Had Known Jesse” contains 501 pages. There are 30 pages of illustrations and photographs. The ISBN number is 9781929311606. The book lists for $28.00 at HaroldsBookStore.com. or you can phone Harold Dellinger at (816) 241-5315.

From a speech by John T. Barker, former Attorney General of Missouri, on Page 206: “They lost fighting for a lost cause. The loser always looks bad and the winners always look good. Victory made George Washington and his soldiers patriots and heroes, but had they lost the revolution they would have been hung. How would the James boys have looked had the South won?”

Nancy Hitt – 2009
hunleyhitt@earthlink.net

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our History Project Book Review: “I Called Him Grand Dad” by Thomas T. Fields, Jr.

“I Called Him Grand Dad” by Thomas T. Fields, Jr.

“I Called Him Grand Dad” is a Biography of Harvey Goodwin Fields written by his grandson Thomas T. Fields. The book itself is an exploration in not only Field’s life but also about America. It explores the behind the scenes politics at the levels of both state and federal levels. It delves into the everyday life, setting the stage for industry, work conditions, laws and ethics while giving us a rich insight about a man who was convicted by his own standards and who by his actions did what he thought was right. An advocate of the Law, Fields would rise to fame and notoriety of one of the greatest legal minds and Public Servants in American History.

This book covers our history from the late 1800’s until the mid 1900’s and is truly a chronicle of our America. Through two World Wars, the great depression, prohibition, unionizing, high profile court cases such as the Scopes Trail and his runs on State and Federal positions including the White House, Harvey G. Fields had a remarkable life that you can now be a part of too. This book, unlike many that draw conclusions by theory to what was thought and what was said is supported with dozens upon dozens of actual letters, memo’s and notes written by fields himself.

Fields himself was a Progressive Democrat and will appeal to the party of today in his thoughts, actions and legislation. For the opposition to the Democratic Party of today it will give you insights to the workings of, and the history of that party. However, no matter which side you fall on, pro or con in the political arena this is a book about our country and it is rich with our history as a nation and a biography of a great man.

Craig Anderson
Our History Project
www.ourhistoryproject.com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

OHP Book Review - The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine by Mark Wilensky

The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine by Mark Wilensky
Savas Beatie,LLC - Publisher -2008
202 pages

I was not sure how I felt about this book when it arrived on my doorstep. It was about Thomas Paine’s writing of “Common Sense” which I was eager to explore and hopefully expand my understanding of Paine himself, but a whole book on the writing that would fit into modern books 30 or so pages?

What I found was an easy to understand portrait of not only the man himself but of the environment in which brought about the reasons for the writing. This book not only explores the Acts and Petitions between England and the Colonies but also the economic, social and moral aspects of times from both points of view.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book is that it goes to great lengths to make sure you can understand the context of the writing with definitions on the same page, and it also includes tons of historical quotes by other notable characters of the time. This is meant to be an elementary book, but I would think that the grade level should be starting about fourth grade to get a good understanding of it. However Mark Wilensky has taken another step, which is rare to the aspects of historical books written for the mainstream and not educational focused publishing’s and has packed this book and corresponding website with games, audio, activities and timelines that could include almost any age or grade.

In terms of my review and the mentioning of the grades and ages that I referenced, don’t be misled this book is for anyone, young or old from eight to a hundred and eight. It should be on a shelf in every classroom and on your shelf at home as well…. Why?

Because, most of us today do not know the origins of our history, our story. Have you ever just read the Declaration of Independence, Poor Richard or Common Sense? I would bet that most have not. I could go on a tangent here but I won’t. I will in closing recommend this book whole heartedly; it’s clean concise and easy to understand. It crosses all the generational boundaries and is very interesting read. Pick up a copy, you will not be disappointed.

Craig Anderson
Our History Project
ourhistoryproject.com

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

OHP BOOK REVIEW: THE ROAD TO ROCK ISLAND, A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER'S STORY BY RON JONES


Novel, photos, maps, exhibits, 327 pp., 2007. Tate Publishing & Enterprising, 127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, Oklahoma 73064. $25.99 plus shipping and handling.

When asked to name a prison camp during the War Between the States, the average person will normally respond “Andersonville.” The Confederate prisoner of war camp, Andersonville, or officially Camp Sumter, usually receives the most publicity out of all POW camps on both sides. Although the conditions at Camp Sumter were atrocious, there were Northern camps that were as bad or worse. The main difference, however, was that the South was under a blockade causing a lack of supplies for its soldiers and she was contending with an invading army. Captives received the same rations in most cases as the average soldier. The Southern force was a starving, ragged army at the end of the war. The Union contingency did not suffer with these issues, yet their prison camps were horrible. Prisoners were starved, used as target practice, not given the proper supplies to ward off the cold winters, and much more. This normally is overlooked as being a part of war.

Ron Jones once again does a superb job of weaving truth and fiction together to create a historical tale entitled The Road to Rock Island, A Confederate Soldier’s Story. While this is considered a novel, the publication shows more factual information then some non-fiction books. His work contains actual letters, information out of diaries and official documents. The story is true, only the inserted dialogue is invented.

In this manuscript, the reader learns about characters, many based on Mr. Jones’ ancestors, as they survive during the War Between the States. The main character, William Moore, is from Elbert County in Northeast Georgia. “Bloodshed. Fear. Elation. Sadness. Loneliness. Comradeship. Homesickness. Rejuvenation. Reunion. War. Peace. These are but a few of the ideas and emotions brought before readers as Ron Jones leads them along the path followed by William Moore,” states Dr. Michael J. Bradley in the Foreword of this book. The reader follows Moore through campaigns and ultimately into the prisoner of war camp known as Rock Island Prison. This hell on earth was endured by countless Confederate soldiers. The Road to Rock Island offers the reader a glimpse into what took place there on a daily basis. By being based on actual people, this allows the reader the ability to let history come alive for them.
The Road to Rock Island is a companion to Mr. Jones’ first book, War Comes to Broad River. Both are extensively researched and well written. Suitable for middle and high school students, either of these books would be a worth addition to personal or public libraries.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW: NEPTUNE'S HONOR, A STORY OF LOYALTY AND LOVE BY PAMELA MUELLER


Fiction, resources, 189 pp., 2005. Pinata Publishing, 112 Dunbarton Dr., St. Simons Island, GA, 31522. $10.99, plus shipping and handling.


Few War Between the States authors write expressly for the middle school age group. Neptune’s Honor, A Story of Loyalty and Love by Pamela Bauer Mueller is a recent historical fiction publication that boast of this attribute. The book is written from the viewpoint of Neptune Small, a black servant to the King family who lived in South Georgia, namely St. Simons Island. Neptune was the childhood friend and companion of Henry “Lordy” King. Their friendship was more like a kindred spirit, making them closer than brothers.

Mrs. Mueller’s research led her to several transcripts of interviews with the real Neptune Small. She attempted to use Neptune’s own words as much as possible when writing; yet, the author assumes many of Neptune’s feelings, thoughts and statements. The key element to remember is that this is a historical fiction based on a real person’s life. Mrs. Mueller is writing her interpretation of the events that transpired.

The story is very choppy, jumping from one event to another. Mrs. Mueller only includes significant dates that Neptune mentions in his writings or interviews but she does not develop the story, leaving the reader lacking in many crucial details.

The reader enjoys learning more about Neptune, but the other characters are not well established. There is an entourage of different individuals that are brought into the story, so the reader is overwhelmed as to what role each person plays.

The main flaw with this book is the writer’s inability to understand slavery in the 19th Century. Mrs. Mueller states in the forward, “My research of pre-Civil War local plantation families, coupled with transcripts of interviews with Neptune Small, gave me a sense that he felt sincere allegiance to the family that owned him.” This statement by itself would have been sufficient since 87% of the slaves interviewed in the Slave Narratives agreed with it; however, it is the 13% that the public hears about on a regular basis. Mrs. Mueller apparently wants the reader to be reminded of that small minority because she goes on to say, “This is not necessarily the experience of slaves living on other Georgia plantations.” Our culture has been indoctrinated that slaves were always beaten and ridiculed and never loved and honored as part of the family. The real Neptune Small’s story shows the reader that this is not so. It is unfortunate that Mrs. Mueller chooses to elude the reader in believing his story is a rare occurrence.

Throughout the book, Mrs. Mueller does not have historical facts correct. One such incident is when she has a dialogue between Neptune and Adam on July 30, 1861. In the conversation she implies that the North is fighting over slavery and Adam cannot understand why Neptune would want to follow Lordy into a war that will liberate him and other slaves. Mrs. Mueller’s research failed to show her that the United States Congress passed on July 23, 1861 a Congressional Resolution stating that the war not over slavery but preserving the Union. This was adopted just seven days before this supposed conversation.

Mrs. Mueller, like so many current authors, wants the reader to believe the war was only over slavery. The other misconception is that whites owned blacks and the slaves were beaten regularly. It is conveyed that slavery was a practice only in the South and never in the North. The in-depth research never reveals that there were a lot of blacks and white that did not own anyone and there were free men of color who owned blacks. Most people also overlook the fact that the Union General Ulysses S. Grant, along with others Northerners, owned slaves until after the War Between the States.

The story of Neptune Small is one that needs to be taught to the public; however, Mrs. Mueller’s interpretation should only be used with caution. Even as a fiction story, this book leads the reader to believe the words within its pages are true and well researched.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW: CLEBURNE BY JUSTIN MURPHY


Graphic Novel, illustrated, suggested reading, 208pp., 2008. Rampart Press, PO Box 551056, Jacksonville, FL, 32255, $24.95 plus shipping.

In the eve of the sesquicentennial, there is a dire need for War Between the States books that cater to a younger audience. Children find history boring and uninteresting due to an education system that puts restraints on teachers. Educators find they are unable to teach in an entertaining and informative hands-on style due to standards set by the government to ensure students can pass a test. Outside sources are needed to facilitate the learning of history.

A graphic novel tells a story by using vivid pictures, basically in a comic book style. They are a form of entertainment, especially for children. Cleburne is written in this approach. With full color, stunning images, Justin Murphy records the last year of Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne’s life in roughly the length of a nine issue comic book mini series.

An immigrant from County Cork Ireland who had served as a foot soldier in the British Army during the Potato Famine, Cleburne comes to America, after procuring his discharge, with his two brothers and older sister. He would arrive in New Orleans but would ultimately settle in Helena, Arkansas where he would become a naturalized citizen and practice law. When the call of arms came for his adopted homeland, he would answer by joining as a private but was promoted to captain. Even though Cleburne does not cover this information chronologically, it is brought out in the dialogue between the characters.

The story begins on November 25, 1863 and continues until Cleburne’s death at the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864. During this time, the reader is able to appreciate the fast pace setting of the army during the Atlanta Campaign, and the politics between the leaders. It even brings out the human side by showing Cleburne’s relationship with Susan Tarleton. The main concentration of Cleburne is the proposal that the General made allowing blacks to officially serve in the Confederate States Army in exchange for their freedom. This was a controversial issue, especially if one understands the antebellum period of compromises in the halls of Congress that lead up to the War Between the States. General Cleburne was willing to risk his career, which happened, for this proposition. Up to this point his reputation had been worthy of fame. He was a hero to many, a superb fighter that was shy around people. His men loved him and would rally behind his every order. When Johnston was removed as Commander of the Army of Tennessee, Cleburne should have been promoted since General Hardee had declined the advancement. However, as history will tell, General Hood would receive the elevation in rank. Many consider this a mistake.

As a historical fiction, it is important to point out that although majority of the characters are factual, this an invented story with the author’s theory of what might have been said. Several of Cleburne’s famous quotes are utilized in the appropriate settings. “I believe the job of any writer of historical fiction is to fill in the blanks and capture the essence and motivations of the individuals they choose to write about,” states Mr. Murphy in the forward.

Incredible artwork is used to allow the reader to visualize without words the events that unfold. The wide range of hues and details create a stunning success. Even historical elements are utilized, such as the Carter House in the Battle of Franklin, to portray every aspect of the scenery. The imagination of a reader can take these images and envision the story in greater detail. Inker Al Milgrom and colorist J. Brown have both worked with Marvel comics in their career, on such projects as The Incredible Hulk and Captain America respectively.

It is worthy to note that Cleburne has already been featured on the cover of Publishers Weekly and has received the 2008 Xeric Award. This creditable publication should be an essential part of any educator’s collection for students in middle and high school, not to mention is ideal for the adult reader also. The graphic nature of some of the illustrations is not recommended for younger children. Cleburne is a book that can educate the youth and grown-ups concerning an aspect of the War Between the States by using a medium that seizes their imagination.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW: DESTROYING THE REPUBLIC: JABEZ CURRY AND THE RE-EDUCATION OF THE OLD SOUTH BY JOHN CHODES


Non-fiction, footnotes, index, bibliography, 332 pp., 2005. Algora Publishing, 222 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10025-6809.

Publication education as we know it today has not always existed in the form of tax payers paying for the government to education our children. The evolution to this mode of teaching actually began during the colonial period, but up until the War Between the States most schools were privately funded and only for white males. This would drastically change during Reconstruction.

Destroying the Republic: Jabez Curry and the Re-Education of the Old South explores the life of Jabez Curry before, during and after the War Between the States. By using primary sources, many from Mr. Curry’s own letters and writings, the author, Mr. John Chodes, exposes to the reader Mr. Curry, who was an aristocratic Alabamian who served his country prior to the onset of war in the Alabama Assembly and United States Congress where he steadfastly supported states rights and a small, limited Federal government. “As an active promoter of education, he (Mr. Curry) staunchly believed that this important function was entirely each state’s responsibility and completely outside Washington’s sphere,” Mr. Chodes states on the back cover.

Mr. Curry’s reflections of prominent people who served the Confederacy in some form or fashion are enlightening. Mr. Curry states this about the Vice President, Alexander H. Stephens, “Tall, spare, not weighing over one hundred pounds, nearly bloodless, with a feminine voice and appearance, he seemed incapable of physical labor or fatigue. He was spoken of as a ‘refugee from a graveyard.’…As a stump speaker he had few equals. His remarkable physique, penetrating voice, ingenious frankness, humor, satire, repartee, eloquence, made him a great favorite.” Curry was elected from the 4th District of Alabama in the Confederate Congress where he participated in the creation of the Confederate Constitution. He was assigned to four committees in the Provisional Congress: Postal, Commercial Affairs, Rules, and Flag and Seal. In February, Curry would end his term as a Congressman and return to Alabama, only to have Jefferson Davis appoint him as Commissioner under the Habeas Corpus Act, to serve with General Johnston’ army, where he would stay until the end of the war.

When the war was over, Curry returned home to Talladega to try to assume a normal life; however, Reconstruction was as cruel to him as it was too many Confederate soldiers and dignitaries. “For years after the surrender, detachments of Union troops marched through the country, searching for cotton and booty, arresting citizens on false charges supplied by war-time Unionists,” Mr. Chodes states in his book. Two principals used by the Radical Republicans to completely overthrow the South’s social, political and economic existence were “State Suicide” and “Conquered Province.” Both were vicious plans to subjugate the South and both had universal education proposals. President Andrew Johnson states this when the South was divided into military districts under a commander with absolute power, “It (Constitution) binds all people there, and should protect them; yet they are denied every one of its sacred guarantees. Of what avail will it be to these Southern people, when seized by a file of soldiers, to ask the cause of arrest, or for the production of the warrant? Of what avail to ask for the privilege of bail when in military custody, which knows no such things as bail? Of what avail to demand a trial by jury, process for witnesses, a copy of the indictment, the privilege of counsel, or that grater privilege, the writ of habeas corpus?”

Before a Southern state could be readmitted into the Union, it was required to have a public, tax supported education system clause in its post-war Constitution. According to Mr. Norton, a Minnesota Senator, “If the Congress of the United States can… compel us to make a system that will conform to the views of Congress, then, what becomes of the States, and why do we have States? Why have apportionment of the representatives in the other House, and in this, according to the States? Why not call us, as the Senator from Illinois says, all one people; one country and have no State government and no local government at all?” According to J.P. Wikersham, a Radical Republican educator, “The thing of highest interest in a republic is its schools… When our youth learn to read similar books, similar lessons, we shall become one people, possessing one organic nationality, and the Republic will be safe for all time.” Wikersham than goes on to state, “A republican form of government cannot exist without providing a system of free schools. A republic must make education universal among its people. Ignorant voters endangered liberty. With free schools in the South there could have been no rebellion. And free schools must now render impossible rebellion in the future.”

“It appears that Jabez had no problem joining forces with those who were intent on exterminating Southern culture and Southern minds,” per Mr. Chodes. Curry in 1881 became General Agent of the Peabody Education Board and a nationally prominent figure. This fund was used as a matching fund for communities starting public schools to entice the people to support a tax supported school. Curry states, “We are tethered to the lowest stratum of society, and if we do not lift it up, it will drag us down to the nethermost hell of poverty and degradation. In uplifting the Negro in manhood and womanhood, we are uplifting ourselves.” His viewpoint changes, but it appears in a desire to educate the South to better the citizens, not for government control. He will continue in many facets to evolve his train of thought. As the country took major steps toward nationalized schools, Curry seemed to progress in similar reflection. “Despite his disillusionment, he continued to press forward to nationalize Southern schools… Jabez Lafayette Monroe Curry, the former champion of home-rule, fought to the end of his life to make the South a ward of Washington, and near the end, only faintly realized the consequences of his labors.”

Destroying the Republic: Jabez Curry and the Re-Education of the Old South is an examination of not only the life of Curry, but also a study of Reconstruction and its affects on the Southern people. By using primary sources from Curry and many other individuals, Mr. Chodes is able to give a bird’s eye view of what tragedies took place. Worthy of note, it is unclear to this reviewer why Curry made such drastic changes in his thought process. This publication is required reading for any educator or person working tin the public school system. It is insightful to how the country arrived at the current state. “By the 20th century, this plan had turned on itself and emptied out Northern children’s minds as well. This transformed the US republic in the 21st Century into an emerging dictatorship,” states Mr. Chodes on the back cover.


Book review by Cassie A. Barrow

Saturday, September 5, 2009

OHP RADIO - The Ride Of Paul Revere by Gordon Syzymanski

“The Tale of Paul Revere” by Gordon Szymanski.

Folks this is our first step into the children shows that we want to be the next step in Our History Project. Gordon worked with us this summer for about a month. What you will hear is his creation and we are proud to have it. He worked hard and I think it shows. This story is for the elementary age and we invite you to listen, take it to school, hand out to teachers or anyone. It’s 4 ½ minutes long and tells the story of that famous ride so many years ago.



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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

OHP BOOK REVIEW – “ALL AMERICAN, ALL THE WAY: FROM SICILY TO NORMANDY” by Phil Nordyke

All American, All the way is a fantastic read for any World War 2 or 82nd Airborne enthusiast, I would say that this is a must have. This book (part one) is a release of the large volume under the same name and the second will be released in 2010 (From Market Garden to Berlin).

I think it was a great marketing decision to split this into a two volume set, while both books will still be in excess of 400 pages it does make it manageable to read and may bring in some readers that were scared off by the all in one volume which was almost 900 pages. Ok, enough of the marketing of the book, lest talk about what you will find inside.

Phil Nordyke brings this story in our history to life giving different perspectives but continuing the story. It offers a wealth of firsthand accounts and tells the story through the eyes of the men who were there. He really hit my style of reading; there is enough information that you can follow this easily on a map and have a clear understanding of the timeline in which the campaign plays out, while at the same time the accounts are not drowned out the story because they are the story.

This is truly a great read and in my opinion a must have for any World War II fan, student or researcher. Our history is rich with the everyday way of life, the great heroics of people put into situations that really did not want to be there, but made the best of what they had. This book through its accounts brings American metal to bear and gives us a glimpse of what they sacrificed for us. It captures that moment in time and allows there and our history to be shared.



Purchase your copy through Our History Project Amazon Store.

Friday, August 7, 2009

OHP Radio - Colin Woodard - The Republic of Pirates

This week we are please to introduce you to Colin Woodard. Colin is here to talk about his book “The Republic of Pirates. There are a ton of facts that I bet you did not know on this subject, I didn’t. It is a great show that goes back in time to a swashbuckling high seas adventure. Join us as we explore not only the Pirate culture itself, but those legendary characters that made our visions of pirates today what it is. You will also be surprised at how short of time the golden age of the pirates was that still gives us this vision even today. For a full Biography on Colin Woodard please visit his website http://www.colinwoodard.com/ and his book The Republic of Pirates can be found on Amazon.





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Saturday, July 25, 2009

OHP - 07-25-09 - Eric Hammel - The Road to Big Week



Eric Hammel makes his first appearance on Our History Project. Folks, Eric has over 30 titles to his credit and he writes about it all. A true student of history, Eric has written about World War 2, Korea and Vietnam. Eric is a wealth of knowledge as he has interview literally hundreds of people who were there to learn and write about those experiences.

Eric is also a fun loving guy and if you know us, that is what we enjoy the most History and Fun. This week among other things we will talk to Eric about his upcoming book “Road to Big Week” The Struggle for Daylight Air Supremacy over Western Europe. See more about this book from Eric’s website http://www.erichammelbooks.com/news.php .

Lenght: 57 Minutes

Size: 19.5 MB



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Monday, July 13, 2009

How America Saved the World: The Untold Story of U.S. Preparedness Between the World Wars by Eric Hammel

For a complete list on the books availible by the author you can visit erichammmelbooks.com.

The Review:

How is it that within months of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that the United States was capable of projecting powerful naval, amphibious, and aerial campaigns to counter German and Japanese aggression? In "How America Saved the World", by Eric Hammel, asserts that it was the culmination of years of planning that had begun in the late part of the 1930s. This book is an incredible look at how America prepared for war though acts of Congress; industrial preparation; and organizational changes throughout the military.

In very simplistic terms, a national security strategy lays out a nation's objectives to accomplish in its global role. One of those pieces of the national security strategy is the role of the military in achieving those objectives. The defense budget will then allow the military to recruit service-members, procure weapons, and operate bases to achieve those objectives. Hammel masterfully lays out the strategic environment of the time, documenting both the Japanese and German aspirations at the time. These aspirations led to aggressive acts against American allies. Hammel identifies these key events and analyzes how they in turn forced the American national strategy to evolve from one of "isolationism" to active defense to active offense.

Along with the political evolutions, Hammel masterfully integrates applicable military revolutions that were occurring in strategy, doctrine, doctrine, and equipment (e.g. DOTMPFL for the layman) for each of the services. In the era of declining defense budgets, it was interesting to read how each of the services responded to the challenges.

As a nation prepares for war, the industrial base must be ready to manufacture the machines, weapons, munitions, and support equipment to fight. Hammel identifies the key players and events that helped the American industrial base have the necessary materiel in place to fight the war in 1942.

The other key element to national strategy is diplomacy. Hammel analyzes events such as those that led to legislative actions such as the evocation, modification, and rescission of the "Neutrality Acts"; and passage of the "Lend/Lease Act". On the diplomatic front, he also reviews lesser known actions involving the defense of Iceland and Greenland. Hammel also discusses the destroyer for basing deal between Britain and the United States.

From an Air Force perspective, the book is an excellent complement to Richard Overy's "The Air War: 1939-1945 (Potomac Books' Cornerstones of Military History series)". This is an outstanding book that analyzes the national actions that today would be called a national security strategy. It is outstanding, in that it is written in a conversational style making it a relatively easy read for such heavy topics.

Reviewed by: Major Joel Rudy, USAF

Joel Rudy is an active duty Air Force major who has served more than sixteen years in various assignments.

He has served as an instructor; a flight commander; at staff assignments at HQ US European Command, and the Air Staff; and as the director of operations for a deployed communications squadron.

Joel is currently serving as the acquisition manager for the Air Force's entire communications procurement portfolio.

During his daily commute into Washington, DC, you can find him on a Metrobus with his nose buried in a book.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

OUR HISTORY PROJECT BOOK REVIEW -WOMEN WHO FLY: by Lynn M. Homan and Thomas Rielly, Illustrated by Rosalie M. Sheperd


WOMEN WHO FLY: by Lynn M. Homan and Thomas Rielly, Illustrated by Rosalie M. Sheperd
Pelican Publishing, 103 pages

I need to start this review with a story - Until I was about 35 I never really gave thought to the view of women in our society. It was not until a car buying venture with my wife that it became apparent to me. See, “she” wanted a new vehicle and we went looking. I noticed that all the salesmen would address me and really ignore her. Why? It’s going to her car or van, why talk to me? The second time that happened that day a frankly told the salesman, “I’m not the one you need to talk to.” With that I shrank into the background as much as possible and forced the issue of them dealing with her. She is smart, knew what see was looking for and could ask the questions about features important to her.

Fast forward several years and I now have two daughters, and I tell them; just like all the generations before; you can do anything you put your mind to. I actively seek out inspirations, books and stories so that they will have a grounded background and build on the confidence of those women who came before them.

Now the review – This book is a Juvenile Nonfiction Book and is also part of the Accelerated Reader Program Books. Let me say right now - Do not let this stop you from picking this book up! It is a wonderful, inspiring and historical read. The determination of these early women flyers are a lost treasure of our history. We all grew up knowing Amelia Earhart, right. Who does not know that name.

What about Ruth Law? Harriett Qumiby? Matilda Moisant? Blanch Stuart Scott? Julia Clark? And a whole pack of women that made a difference that I bet you have never heard of. This book is a chronical of them all. Their determination to do what they wanted in a time that women were supposed to be at home, there since of pride in their accomplishments and unknown to some of them the doors that they opened for generations to come. Not in great giant steps but small steps, but fighting every step of the way.

I could literally go on and on, but I will end in saying that this is a must read for any and everybody. The stories and the history of women in early aviation is a grand adventure.

Craig Anderson
Our History Project

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

OHP BOOK REVIEW ON THE WOMEN WILL HOWEL BY MARY DEBORAH PETITE



Non-fiction, pictures, appendix, notes, bibliography, index, 189 pp., 2008. McFarland & Co, Inc., Publishers, Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640. $45 plus shipping and handling.

Mystery and intrigue surround the events that take place in July 1864 in Roswell and New Manchester, Georgia. Innocent mill workers, predominately women and children, go to work as usual, only to be arrested for treason by the Union army as they invade their villages. The mills they are employed by manufacture items for the Confederate Government. In the eyes of Union General Sherman, their way of making a living is considered sedition, so he ordered their arrest and deportation to “north of the Ohio River.” “The Women Will Howell”, The Union Army Capture of Roswell and New Manchester, Georgia, and the Forced Relocation of Mill Workers gives a comprehensive study of this ambiguous subject.

Author Mary Deborah Petite first gives the reader a preview of Roswell King, founder of Roswell, and the “Roswell royalty,” who help create the colony from the wilderness to a thriving mill town. The creation of Roswell Mills brings in people from South Georgia and South Carolina to hone out a living for their families. Ms. Petite provides the background for Roswell to help the reader better understand the dynamics of the situation and people.

On the eve of Sherman’s march, inhabitants of Georgia are preparing for the worse. “Time after time we had been told of the severity of General Sherman, until we came to dread his approach as (one) would that of a mighty hurricane which sweeps all before it caring naught for justice or humanity,” sates Mary Rawlson of Atlanta. “It is sad to witness the fearful suffering of the people, particularly the women and children, in those parts of Georgia through which we (the Union) campaigned… I am sorry to say that our men often wantonly burned down the houses, destroyed the contents, and drove forth their inmates, houseless, homeless, starving outcasts, to perish of cold and hunger,” per David Conyngham, Sherman’s aide-de-camp. Even with all of this, the residents of Roswell, especially the poor, working class, did not expect what was about to happen next.

In a play by play account, Ms. Petite gives a report of what takes place when the Union army enters Roswell to the burning of the mills. She includes actual orders when available, but also relies on personal accounts. At this point, the facts are detailed and abundant. However, once the mills are burned, Sherman claims that the mill workers were “tainted with treason,” and orders the arrest of “all people, male and female, connected with those factories.” The morning after the mills are torched, General Kenner Garrand’s troops begin gathering the employees of the mill.

At this point the information trail gets vague and elusive. The number of women and children that were apprehended is unclear. The most common number is 400, but it is unsure if this is accurate. With only the items they can carry, the women are placed into holding to be transported by supply wagons to Marietta. It is uncertain how long it took to move the prisoners, but it is certain that some females were present that night when allegedly Union soldiers took advantage of them. “The hideousness of war breeds atrocities and tales of atrocities. The strength with which these stories persist through the years in the county necessitates mention of them,” writes Ms. Petite.

Within days of each other, Sweetwater Mills in New Manchester received similar treatment as the mills in Roswell. The main difference is that many of the prisoners had to walk to Marietta due of the lack of supply wagons to carry them. It is estimated that the number of captives was between 150 and 200. Again it is unsure how exact these figures are.

Once the captives arrived in Marietta, they are sent by rail to Nashville, Tennessee in the middle of July. From there they are transported to Louisville, Kentucky, which was already at capacity with refugees. “Although Sherman ordered the arrest of the women, formal charges were never issued, and no evidence has been found that any official record was made of their transportation or of their confinement at any point from Marietta to Louisville. The women and children were confined against their will and held under guard but appear to have been treated much the same as refugees in all other respects,” asserts Ms. Petite.

A hospital in Louisville was converted into a refugee prison for the detainees; however, it lacked heat, water and other necessities to house such large numbers. The living conditions deteriorated day by day. “Old men, women and children huddled together in barracks with no provision for comfort. While many were sick and filled with despair, large numbers were dying and hurried to ‘rude unknown graves,’” depicts Ms. Petite. The Sisterhood of Nuns of Nazareth in Bardstown, Kentucky, took some of the children, and others were given to families throughout the country side.

Sherman’s goal was to have all prisoners sent “north of the Ohio River.” While some were able to find employment in Louisville, there were those that were too infirmed to travel or had died. “History has recorded but a few of the names of the women and children who arrived in Indiana from Roswell and New Manchester.” With no written record, it is hard to research and ascertain which women remained where. Those who did arrive across the border of Indiana faced hardships as bad if not worse than that in Louisville.

Without a way to provide for themselves, the women and children improvised by making shacks in the woods or got permission from the locals to live in old stables, barns or other structures to shelter them from the cold of a Northern winter. “In one or two instances, children have been found dead in the woods, actually starved or frozen to death,” reports The New Albany Ledger. Other tragic deaths are reported by this newspaper, revealing the horrors that these displaced women and children faced daily.

It is unknown how many people survived these travesties. Only a few accounts can be found of women who remained up north or traveled back to Georgia, mainly due to the fact that these women were illiterate. Sadly, the “Roswell Royalty” returned to their homes and were not concerned about “those people” who were beneath them. They blamed their ransacked homes on them, and looked at them with disgust, forgetting that the Union army was to blamet. Had the women made their way back to their home, it was certain that there would be no jobs for them.

The title of this publication is taken from a correspondence from Sherman to Garrand, “The women will howl.” Unfortunately, his words came true. Ms. Petite uses primary sources, even though they were hard to obtain. She gives as detailed account as possible, exploring possible clues from family oral histories. It is important to note that majority of the manuscript focuses on Roswell. This moving book investigates the atrocities committed on women and children by the Union army are likely the best comprehensive study of this subject matter.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW OF EARTEN WALLS, IRON MEN: FORT DERUSSY, LOUISIANA BY STEVEN M. MAYEUX


Non-fiction, notes, maps, illustrated, bibliography, 370 pp., 2007. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN 37996-4108 www.utoress.org.

The War Between the States has more books written about it than any other era in history; however, most of what is available pertains to the Army of Northern Virginia and Army of Tennessee. The Army of Trans-Mississippi has been largely disregarded by authors and historians. With a need to educate on this particular theatre, Earthen Walls, Iron Men: Fort DeRussy, Louisiana, and the Defense of Red River gives an account of this major Confederate fortification located on the lower Red River.

“Long regarded as little more than a footnote by historians, the fort in fact played a critical role in the defense of the Red River region,” writes author Steven M. Mayeux. Even though the period that Fort DeRussy was in operation was short, mid-1862 to mid-1864 with a long duration of being abandoned within this time frame, its tale is one full of naval battles, land battles, battles between gunboats and the shore batteries, and personalities that would control its fate. “Acts of extreme cleverness, incredible stupidity, admirable loyalty, loathsome betrayal, noble heroism, and base cowardice all played themselves out” during the stretch of time the fort was active.

After the fall of New Orleans in April 1862, there were tales that a Union gunboat would attempt to come up the Red River. Even though these rumors did not occur at that point in time, the police juries along the Red River spoke to Major General Richard Taylor to “contemplate erecting fortifications to defend Red River.” Col. Lewis G. DeRussy was appointed as superintendent of the construction of a fort on the Red River. “Barbin’s Landing” was chosen as the site and construction began, thus commencing the saga of this fort.

It is important to note that Fort DeRussy was an impressive stronghold. When assessing the fort, U.S. Admiral David Porter observes, “The works… are of the most extensive and formidable kind. Colonel DeRussy, from appearances, is a most excellent engineer to build forts.” In addition to this, Capt. Thomas Selfridge, commander of the USS Osage, declared Fort DeRussy “a formidable work, probably the strongest constructed by the Confederates during the war.” Twenty years after the capture of the fort, U.S. Admiral Porter wrote, “Without a doubt, they (Confederates) established a new era in military engineering which none have ever excelled, and on a scale equaled by the works of the Titans of old.”

For those who have lived in Louisiana, it has been rumored that the Red River Campaign was primarily fought for cotton – the Southerners had it and the Yankees wanted it. “Whether or not cotton stealing was the primary reason for the expedition, the U.S. Navy certainly lost no time in getting down to the business of hauling cotton,” contend Mr. Mayeux. Many accounts are given where loyal Southerners are relived by force of their stores of cotton. To victors go the spoils.

Fort DeRussy changes hands several times during her existence. “The capture of Fort DeRussy was a serious blow to Richard Taylor and the defenders of central and northwestern Louisiana. The Red River was, for now, for all practical purposes, open to Shreveport.” It is interesting to read how this strategic bend in the river is utilized by the different armies. The Confederate forces tried to maintain its fortifications, while the Union attempted to destroy the earth works.

In late May 1864, the Confederate forces regained control of the fort, only to find her in ruins. No only was this garrison in shambles, “there was nothing left in the lower Red River valley to defend. All of the cotton was gone, stolen, or destroyed, along with the tools, horsepower, and manpower necessary to make any more. From Natchitoches to Simmesport, the area was now known as the ‘Burnt District,’” asserts Mr. Mayeaux.

After the war, Fort DeRussy remained in the memories of the locals, while it was overlooked by history. She changed owners and was used for various different reasons until February 1994 when several members of la Commission des Avoyelles met to discuss possibly purchasing the property to establish a park. The wheels were set into motion. The Friends of Fort DeRussy was established and the property purchased. The land is in control of the Louisiana Office of State Parks, where it receives visitors throughout the year.

The cemetery located within the fort is cloaked with mystery itself. The number of burials has been an item of speculation. The wooden crosses have long since deteriorated, leaving unmarked graves. It should be noted that the remains of Col. Lewis Gustave DeRussy were re-interred to the grounds of the fort that bears his name.

In addition to the chronicle of Fort DeRussy, a listing of combat casualties – Union and Confederate – are included in the book. Slaves who died building the fortification are also noted. Short histories of the other Forts DeRussy is provided for the reader.

Being a native of Louisiana, it was exciting to read about a fort that was mentioned by school teachers and local historians. Mr. Mayeaux does an exceptional job in exposing the history of Fort DeRussy. As a Marine officer, he reviews the primary sources to give the reader an insight as to the military operations. When dealing with first person accounts, he delves into its accuracy and authenticity of the statement by examining all of the details.

The author also does a superb job by writing in a fashion that reads more like a novel than a non-fiction publication. The reader is held in suspense waiting for the outcome of the different actions taking place in and around Fort DeRussy. Earthen Walls, Iron Men is essential to any historian desiring to better educate himself about the Army of Trans-Mississippi and the Red River Campaign.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW OF CICL WAR SUB: MYSTERY OF THE HUNLEY BY KATE BOEHM JEROME


Non-fiction, illustrated, 48 pp., 2002. Grosset & Dunlap, NewYork, NY. $3.99, plus shipping and handling.

The story of the Hunley has been told by different people in many styles. Civil War Sub: The Mystery of the Hunley is written for grade school children to learn about the first submarine to sink an enemy war ship. The simplicity of the writing does not take away from the exciting tale that has captivated young and old alike.

Kate Boehm Jerome takes the reader from the first conception of the idea of an “underwater ship” until the final crew of the Hunley is brought to the surface of the water, which has been her home for almost 140 years. The mystery that surrounds the Hunley is conveyed in the book, encouraging a desire for the reader to learn more about this sub. In the last sentence of the book, Ms. Jerome states, “These rare finds could tell us much more about the men and the lives they led. And what a rich history present that would be from the brave crew of the Hunley!” What a present indeed that the young people of the South have, not only a Confederate submarine that will forever be on the pages of history, but also men and women that fought for a cause in which they believed.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW ON WAR COMES TO BROAD RIVER BY RON JONES


Ron Jones transforms the personal thoughts and feelings related through the diary of his second great grandfather Isaac V. Moore into a historical novel by creating dialogue for the many characters. The campaigns and battles that the men of Company B 9th Georgia Regiment later Company E of the 37th Regiment Georgia fought and participated in from the beginning of the War Between the States until the surrender can be relived through the author’s story telling methods. A reader with little to no knowledge of the war can appreciate and understand how the average soldier in the Army of Tennessee lived and survived daily. You can relate to the lives, which are a part of a larger picture in history that molds the future we live in now.

The unfolding story shows the many different facets of the war including fraternal bonds of friendship, hardships on the home front, personal heartache, fear and others. You will experience a wealth of different emotions as you are brought to a personal level with the characters.

Jones states he is trying to, “merely tell a story of a real person and his friends and family framed by his service to his country and participation as a soldier in the ‘Greatest Fighting Force Ever Assembled.’” This unique style of writing combines fact with fiction, truth with imagination. The journal offers primary source for research of a first-person account of the War Between the States while the story is unfolded for the reader’s enjoyment with a realistic description of the soldier’s life. War Comes to Broad River would be an excellent addition to anyone’s library, especially those who would like to learn more about the common soldier and his daily routine during the War Between the States.

Written by Cassie Barrow

OHP BOOK REVIEW ON TWO CONFEDERATE HOSPITALS AND THEIR PATIENTS, ATLANTA TO OPELIKA BY JACK D WELSH, MD


Non-fiction, foot notes, maps, glossary, assignments, disk, bibliography, index, 183 pp., 2006. Mercer University Press, Macon GA.

Two Confederate Hospitals and Their Patients, Atlanta to Opelika appears to be like any other book; however, like the old adage states, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Once the reader begins reading, he/she realizes that this publication is different in many ways. Taking the time to explore the author’s extensive research revealed within the pages is exciting and worth the effort.

The information about the Confederate hospitals in the Army of Tennessee contained within this book is any researcher’s dream. The table of contents reveals the extent of knowledge within the pages. A few of the different chapters are Admissions and Discharges, Patient Admissions and Distributions, Medical Conditions and Wounds, and Comparison with Other Medical Data. As stated on the cover, “This work provides in-depth information and analysis of Confederate medicine in the Army of Tennessee using primary sources and individual patient reports in a form not previously available.”

This book appeals to readers who are interested in the daily operations at Southern hospitals of this era. The complex system of general hospitals is a fascinating area many historians over-look. The main reason for this is due to the lack of information on the subject. Much of the paperwork was burned in Richmond, Virginia during the War Between the States, or scattered throughout the South. However, medical documents by Dr. Samuel A. Stout, Medical Director of the Army of Tennessee, were preserved. Dr. Stout kept over 1,500 pounds of medical records after the end of the war. “Stout had wanted to record the history of the medical service of the Army of Tennessee before he ‘shuffle(d) off his mortal coils,’” is stated in the introduction of this book. Jack D. Welsh, MD made Dr. Stout’s dream a reality by publishing Two Confederate Hospitals and Their Patients, Atlanta to Opelika.

Many terms were used to diagnosis illnesses and injuries that are not familiar to our culture today. A glossary helps define the words so the reader can better understand the medical data of that period. The ability to cross reference the diseases and illnesses of each hospital helps to grasp the conditions faced by the patients and doctors. The reader is able to explore why it is difficult to compare medical records, especially those of the Union to the few remaining Confederate records.


The true diamond in the rough for this publication is the CD-ROM, which contains the complete patient listing of more then 18,000 patients in alphabetical order. The CD lists the names and units of soldiers in one folder, and the roster of men from Fairground Hospital No. 1 & 2 in another. This is truly a jewel for historians, genealogists and those who are interested in the medical history of the War Between the States.

The vast amount of data within Two Confederate Hospitals and Their Patients, Atlanta to Opelika is ideal for genealogy libraries, research centers, and War Between the States historians looking for a fresh approach to this period of time. Though this book is not one to sit a read from front to back, the reader will find a desire to continue to absorb the knowledge found within the pages.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

OHP BOOK REVEIW OF THIRTY YEARS OF HATE BY R.L. WOODS


Novel, 183 pp., 2007. Catwba Publishing Company, 5945 Orr Road, Suite F, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28213, $9.95 plus shipping.
Westerns, an American genre, have intrigued generations. Most, at some point in life, have played “cowboys and Indians” or watched a John Wayne movie. The literary world is not immune to the attraction the Wild West has on individuals.

Based on Cherokee Blood Law, Thirty Years of Hate is a historical western set in 1868 in Calvary, Texas. The main character, Morgan Black, is half-blooded Cherokee Indian. Black’s story begins when he is ten. At this young age he is a witness to Battle of Neches/ Cherokee War and his mother and sister’s death by a man who would become Black’s sworn enemy. Black would later participate in the Battle of Pea Ridge/ Elkhorn Tavern with Col. Stand Waite. Although the book is not in chronological order, the story flows flawlessly to allow the reader an insight into the past to understand the current circumstances.

R.L. Woods captivates the reader with his writings. “It is symphonic, allegory, blending Arthurian legend, Cherokee and Greek mythology, without sacrificing its message to the average reader,” stated the Cherokee Nation newspaper in its review. Black’s desire for revenge leads him to the love of his life, but choices must be made. Mr. Woods does a fascinating job to pull the reader in and keep them hanging to the last second.

Even though this book only has a glimpse into the time period during the War Between the States, it is a perfect fiction book for those who love Westerns. The amount of violence and some language urges this reviewer to state that this publication is not suitable for children.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our History Project – “In the Dirt with American Digger” – Getting Started in Metal Detecting: The Beginners Guide

This week we on Our History Project’s “In the Dirt with American Digger” segment we host what you would call the Beginners Guide to the Hobby of Metal Detecting. From the stores, to the machines, to the places to hunt. The contacts, groups, strategies and more, it’s all here.

So if you have ever had the question asked of you your asked just to yourself – “What do you find with that thing?” Or better yet –“How do I get me one?” Then this show is for them - or you.

Our History Project is Nonprofit and open sourced, we promote Preservation and Education of our history, and as I have always said – “That starts with you!” – and in this show we will tell you how.

If you would like this show hosted by a player on your site or your business site send me an email and I will supply the code, it’s free. It will put a player on your page just like we have on ours (nothing to install and nothing goes on your server). If you would like I can even take off the opening comments (just let me know). The main goal of this episode is to promote our hobby in a positive light and give a basic foundation on which to grow. Bringing new blood into our world of research, history and preserving artifacts can only increase our understanding of the past.

Pass this show around folks!

Lenght: 49 Min

Size: 19MB



Download this episode (right click and save)

Monday, June 8, 2009

EXPLORING CIVIL WAR CAMPSITES by Dave Poche and Wayne Rex

Exploring Civil War Campsites
by Dave Poche and Wayne Rex


An American Digger Magazine Review for Our History Project

272 page book on CD
$29.95 srp


Available from http://www.americandigger.com, http://www.greybirdrelics.com,and other selected dealers

Review by John Velke
American Digger Magazine


At first glance, Dave Poche’s and Wayne Rex’s new book on CD, Exploring Civil War Campsites, seems strikingly similar to Finding Civil War Campsites in Rural Areas and Interpreting History from Relics Found in Rural Civil War Campsites, two printed books previously reviewed in this column. In fact, a close examination reveals that much of the information appearing in the two previously published works is included under this new title. However, one benefit of publishing a book on CD is that the authors have not been constrained by page count. The two previous works contain a combined total of 104 pages, whereas this new title contains 272 pages and eight Excel spreadsheets. Instructions on interpreting aerial photographs expand from five pages to ten pages, and examples of typical Civil War campsites expand from twenty to twenty-seven pages. The additional details and examples will be helpful to most researchers.

The main text of the book is in Adobe Acrobat as a PDF file, which makes it easy to open and use on most computers. Although the instructions don’t say to do so, I found it easiest to copy the file to my hard drive and use it from there. One of the great advantages of a book on CD is that it is extremely easy to link to a helpful website for further information. The authors have done a marvelous job of creating links to more than 20 websites that are referenced or recommended.

Those new to relic hunting will find the do’s and don’ts in Chapter 6 and the search pattern techniques in Chapter 7 particularly worthwhile. Chapter 17 on cleaning and preservation should be read by anyone unacquainted with the effects of corrosion or the reactivity table for metal objects.

Among the most useful chapters for even the most experienced relic hunters are Chapters 14 and 15, “Simple Bullet Forensics” and “Advanced Techniques and Observations.” But a word of caution: on page 164 the authors enter into a discussion regarding the interpretation of ramrod impressions using the premise that “If a ramrod is heavily applied to the nose of a bullet or to a musket ball, it is an indicator that [of] the ‘greenness’ of the soldier.” While this is certainly one possible interpretation, another equally credible interpretation, particularly when applied to fired Confederate bullets, is that the soldiers lacked the necessary supplies and equipment to keep their gun barrels cleaned and that during the heat of battle it became increasingly necessary to exert additional force to ram the cartridge down the barrel.

Exploring Civil War Campsites is not without other faults. For example, under the heading “Additional Research Sources,” several relic identification books are recommended, including the fine works by Francis Lord, Stanley Phillips, and Howard Crouch, but conspicuously missing are Stephen Sylvia’s and Mike O’Donnell’s Illustrated History of Civil War Relics and Charlie Harris’s Civil War Relics of The Western Campaign.

Experienced diggers are also likely to take offense at some of the unsupported generalizations made about relic hunters sprinkled throughout the text. For example, on page 51 the authors say, “Most people who metal detect Civil War campsites are not disciplined enough to document their finds.” Earlier on the same page, after listing the equipment the authors carry into the field every time they go out, they say, “Unfortunately, most people who detect probably don’t carry this much equipment with them.” However, absent from the authors’ own list is a small camera to be used in documenting finds.

Conversely, in Chapter 10 the authors go into great detail on the value of using a GPS unit to pinpoint the location of each find. Their instructions are simple enough for even the technologically challenged to comprehend. If you are not using a handheld GPS device or if you are merely using one to find your way back to your vehicle at the end of the day, you will want to read this chapter.

Chapter 16 ties everything together when the authors use all of the lessons from the previous chapters and share a real-life example of finding a previously unknown Union Infantry camp. Whether you are a novice or an experienced relic hunter you can’t help but envy success. With a retail price of $29.95, you could easily spend much more than that amount on gas driving around to unproductive sites. Exploring Civil War Campsites will help put you in the right place to make some finds, saving both gas and time.


(American Digger Vol 4 Issue 2)
All rights reserved. No portion of this review can be used without written consent of American Digger Magazine - www.americandigger.com
2009 ©

(Written Permission on file with Our History Project, Inc.)

CONFEDERATE BOWIE KNIVES OF THE GEORGIA STATE ARSENAL by Josh Phillips

Confederate Bowie Knives of the Georgia State Arsenal
by Josh Phillips

118 pages, softbound
Available from selected dealers
SRP $25.00

Review by Charlie Harris,
American Digger Magazine

This is an informative and well researched book, both by use of bibliographic references (3 pages) and, perhaps even more importantly, years of on the spot, first hand intuitive study of all known examples of the Georgia State Arsenal bowie knives. Throughout his years of research, Josh Phillips has positively identified 6 different varieties, but has not been able to tie all of them to definitive makers, though types 1 and 4, by means of logic and intuition, are good educated guesses as to their actual manufacturers.

High quality photos by noted photographer Jack Melton abound throughout this book with critical angles and details well illustrated. Not only does the author cover individual types, but where needed, he also provides photos of other examples to further illustrate.

As far as relic hunters are concerned, they definitely have not been ignored. Excavated examples abound throughout the book and help support Josh’s theories. I personally photographed a recently recovered example that has a 21½ inch blade, that may tie even another manufactory to the list of known contractors, this one located in Graysville, Georgia, where the blade was found by a road crew. Concerning that knife, Josh says, “I’ve never seen a Milledgeville (Georgia Arsenal knife) with a blade longer that 18½”, but J.D. Gray made some 600 knives under contract and as I recall, his large enterprise was located in Graysville and the town was named after him. It’s a fair bet that the knife was made by Gray.” This blade was shown in Just Dug in the March-April 2009 issue of American Digger.

One of the most significant revelations put forth in this book is that the highly prized “Richmond” bowie knives are not a Richmond, Virginia product, as has long been thought, but actually a Milledgeville, Georgia product. It is an interesting and refreshing read when the author explains how this misconception almost became the undisputed truth. It personally reminds me of the famous “Confederate” Swiss Chasseur bullet that is now positively identified as 100% Federal.

By showing excavated examples along with non excavated pieces, it once again proves the value of the Civil War relic hunter. Without them, many artifacts would remain lost in the “Black Hole” of identification, never to be recognized for what they really are.

If there is any downside to this book, it’s that it focuses on only one subject: Georgia bowie knives. But then again, that was the book’s target and it hits this subject dead on.

(American Digger Vol 5 Issue 3)
All rights reserved. No portion of this review can be used without written consent of American Digger Magazine - www.americandigger.com
2009 ©

(Written Permission on file with Our History Project, Inc.)