Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hardtack and Matzoh, Part 2

Back to Joel's Passover! With some creative foraging, no doubt, Joel and his intrepid band of neo-Israelites not only talked the sutler out of seven barrels of flour to make matzoh, they found chickens and eggs, lamb, some cider, and a weed that was bitter enough to substitute for horseradish. They even came up with enough apples and nuts to make charoset

[Note; recipes for the latter vary but the basic ingredients are chopped apples and nuts, grapes, and wine or grape juice. This was to represent the mortar used while they were slaves in Egypt.]

There is no doubt in my mind that the matzoh looked a lot like hardtack! Unleavened bread represents the quick exit of the original Jews out of Egypt, the lamb represents the Pashel sacrifice, and the bitter herbs--well--bitter is bitter.

There was even a real brick on the soldier's table, upon which to contemplate the hardships undergone by their forbearers, forced into labor by the Pharoahs.And with a real brick on the table upon which to contemplate, their semblance of Seder was pretty accurate. There was just one small problem--the purloined cider was less like cider and more like wine. Apparently enough hard cider was consumed to have results. As Joel writes, " . . . the consequence was a skirmish, with nobody hurt."

His writing continues: “There in the wild woods of West Virginia, away from home and friends, we consecrated and offered our prayers and sacrifice. There is no occasion in my life that gives me more pleasure than when I remember the celebration of Passover of 1862.”

I must give my thanks to Martha M. Bolz, a Civil War historian and writer for the Washington Times/America At War feature. I will send her a link to First Fallen, and maybe she will get in touch, so I can thank her personally, and see if there is more to be learned from Private Joel. Shalom!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hardtack & Matzah

My Spring Break starts today. It isn't politically correct to say "Easter" any more, so "Spring" will have to suffice.

I thought a short column on Easter and the Civil War might be interesting, but it turns out Easter was not celebrated as a holiday much until after 1865. Passover, however, was.

The Jewish men of the 23rd Ohio, stationed at Sewell Mountain, WV in the spring of 1862, decided that they would have a Seder, or Passover supper to celebrate their tradition. Nineteen year old Private J. A. Joel was the leader of this commemoration, but even at so young an age, he had learned enough about soldiering to know that he ought to ask permission of General William Rosecrans, his commanding officer, before going much further with his planning.

Rosecrans gave the idea his go-ahead. Joel and about twenty other participants somehow talked a sutler into seven barrels of flour for matzah. Now, matzah is unleavened bread, and was the main food staple of a group of people moving from one part of the country to another, under a command structure that wanted things done quickly--much like a Civil War army.

Hardtack, unleavened bread, served the exact same purpose for the exact same reasons.

I gotta say, matzah as the food staple of the Union Army is quite a concept.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Zouave Cadet Quickstep

In digging through my Internet files last weekend, I happened upon a file I had downloaded for the image to the left.

I clicked on to the links, and lo & behold if they didn't lead to the notes from a piece of music written and published by those early pop music moguls Root and Cady.

Best of all, the piece was written for the piano, and I just happen to work with a very nice lady who plays/teaches piano.

I took it in to school, and she is going to work it up into real music! What fun to have a link here with Ellsworthian music you could load into your iPod.

Gives me shivers just to contemplate the awesomeness of the whole deal!!

So Here is His Handsome Self!

It has been waaaaay too long since our Colonel graced the pages of his own blog, so here he is!

The preliminary reading of First Fallen is going well, half of the book is in excellent condition, and the rest is very promising!

It may make it to a variety of publishers before long, for the first round of rejection letters, I am sure. But, many out there are pulling for the book, and won't review it if it is self-published, so it HAS to find a home somewhere!

In the mean time, here is the elegant Colonel Ellsworth, whom journalist Ned House referred to as "a singularly handsome man."

And Ned should know, as he was a connoisseur of handsome men.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

. . . or not

I am no longer sure if my book review of Route 15 to Gettysburg will be out or not. It is not up to me, certainly, and once a piece is submitted, its future is no longer in my hands.

The only reason I even bring it up is that the book haunts me, and not for a good reason. It is a self-published book. I am not against this form of book work--I may even be forced into it myself--but one thing I see a lot of with self-published efforts is that the book wasn't quite ready to publish.

First Fallen has been "written" for a while, now. It is in no way ready to publish. Daily, it gets polished. I have a wonderful reader who is helping with this project, and he is only the first.

Huge decisions need to be made about sources, about tone, about how late I can stay up and still write well, about spilling Crystal Light on my keyboard--you lnow, the really crucial stuff.

Let me just say here that there will be no rush to publication, much as my math students would like this to happen. First Fallen will be published when it is ready, and not before.

I hope it will be published by someone other than myself. Any takers??

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Becoming Frank Vizatelly

When I decided to do a series of posts on the "Special Artists" who drew the images with which I live--those of the American Civil War--I didn't know who I would meet, exactly.

One charmer--look right--is Frank Vizetelly. He was British, and came from a family heavily invested in both art and newspapers. He drew the Crimean War, and several other armed international uprisings before he decided to come to America and see what he could do here.

His story is, so far, the most convoluted. He began in Washington, D. C., but soon asked to be assigned to an Army. He hung out with the AofP, then wanted to go west with Fremont, et al, but he couldn't!!

He had made a terrible mistake, you see. And this took him off the "A" list really fast.

He drew a sketch of the Union Army as they retreated at First Bull Run, and the London newspapers printed it. This upset General Scott's gout and Cameron's already-dyspeptic nature became absolutely acidic. And the Brits saw our dirty laundry!

He ended up with the Confederates. So there!

The TRUTH about the Ellsworth Murder!!

Yes! now it can be told!

The government covered it up for 150 years, but I have discovered the TRUTH about Colonel Ellsworth's untimely demise.

He was just walking along the streets of Alexandria at the crack of dawn, minding his own business . . . BUT

He was wearing his Army hoodie!!!!!

So there ya go.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tim Burton and Abraham Lincoln

Oooooooooooh--it's coming! And it looks . . . wonderful! This truly silly film is one of the things I love about my world. I live in a place where vampires and Elmer Ellsworth coexist side-by-side, with History Cat purring in the background and Sisters of Mercy on the iPod.

Hmmm. Maybe that is too much information. Still, I tend to live an eccentric little life of my own making, so there ya go.

The link is to a new trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Here are two quotes from it that made me laugh out loud with pleasure.

"History remembers the battles but forgets the blood."
"Only the living can kill the dead."

Check out the trailer--welcome to my world. Heh, heh, heh.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Route 15 to Gettysburg

It's Book Review time again, here at First Fallen. This time the book is Route 15 to Gettysburg, by John Thomas Ambrosi. As the blurb on the picture states, "If you liked Confederates In the Attic you'll love this book . . ."

I'm having some issues with that statement. CintheA is a minor classic in the non-battles & leaders section of Civil War writing, and one would be hard put to compare these two books. The style is similar, I agree.

But this book looks at a different topic entirely, one with a much more narrow focus. He draws many parallels between soldiers then, and soldiers now. The post will be up at in several days, if they run true to schedule. Read it and see what I mean.

The author states in an on-line Civil War forum (below) that his book is self-published. I have no issue with self-publishing at all, and have considered it for First Fallen, but every one of them I read is in serious need of some slash-and-burn editing.

Editing can be best described as like taking the beautiful, newborn infant you have worked so hard to bring into the world, and cutting off its head, feet, and a random arm or leg. And then doing that again. It is not for the squeamish or faint-at-heart, for sure!

But the effort is worth it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

McTeachers for Brownell

Last night was fun, sort of. The teachers at my school, who have taken pay cuts, furlough days, freezes, and all sorts of abuse from both State and probably District, were out on a corner shaking signs and encouraging passers-by to dine at McDonald's.

We are trying to raise money for Science Camp, among other things. So much has been cut that we offer very little beyond the classroom any more.

In order to take Band, a student has to get to school before 7:30 AM, and almost everything else requires volunteers, both kids and adults. And even then, we get beaten back. No good deed goes unpunished.

The National economy may be slowly getting stronger, but State economies are in terrible shape. Alas, so are our schools and teachers.

Remember Ellsworth . . .

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saving Fort Tejon

This story is finally in cyberspace.
Listen and read about what is going on at Fort Tejon.
Don't let them close this state park down !!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

69/11--The Fighting Irish and the Fire Zouaves

These were the officers on commandof the First Regiment of First New York Fire Zouaves (Eleventh Regiment, N. Y.S. V.):
ElmerE. Ellsworth, Colonel.
NoahL. Farnham, Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Engineer Hook and Ladder Company No.1.
JohnA. Creiger, Major, Assistant Engineer Hose No. 40.
CharlesMcK Loeser, Adjutant.
Company A--John Coyle—Hose 22
Company B-- Edward Byrnes—Engine 16
Company C--Michael C. Murphy—Hose 41
Company D--John Downey—Engine 34
Company E--John B. Leverich—Hose 7
Company F—William H. Burns—Engine 6
Company G—Michael Teagan—Engine 13
Company H—William Hackett—Assistant Engineer Engine 20
Company I—John Wildey—Engine 11
Company K—Andrew D. Purtell—Engine 14

Monday, March 19, 2012

Becoming Edwin Forbes

Tomorrow, over at, my post about "Special Artist" Edwin Forbes will be running, so go read it. Please.

The sketch to the left is by Forbes, and it is one of my favorites, because the soldier in the greatcoat is playing a fiddle made out of a cigar box! I have had this sketch on my desktop for a bit, because of the cigar box, and didn't even know it was a Forbes.

The whole homemade instrument deal is fascinating to me. I did some small amount of research, and WOW! Daddy Mojo, Bluesboy Jag, and Red Dog Guitars make cigar box guitars, and Adventurous Muse and Carolina Fiddle make cigar box violins, among others.

There are YouTube videos of everyone, including Joni Mitchell, with cigar box instruments, and they sound wonderfully funky and soulful. There is even one with a professional violinist taking a turn on the strange looking box.

This deserves much more thought on my part. . .

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New York's Bravest

Toward the end of that terrible mid-July day at Manassas, both the Fire Zouaves (red shirts) and the 69th were beyond exhausted. Their leadership hadn't exactly panned out as hoped, and the battle hadn't gone their way.

After working together to recapture the Federal guns on Henry House Hill, Confederate reinforcements showed up just as the men were wiping the sweat from their brows and thinking that maybe it wasn't a wash after all.

Terrible fighting ensued, the guns were lost again, and the Union Army was in retreat by 4:00 that afternoon. Small bands of soldiers, including the 11th New York, reformed at the Sudley Road cut and tried one more time.
Ahead of the remnants of the 11th, the 69th was standing and fighting. Their flag went down--that beautiful, distinctive banner of Irish green silk! Immediately Zouave Captain Jack Wildey, who had once been Colonel Ellsworth's aide-de-camp, rushed forward. He ran toward the place he had last seen that emerald banner, and grabbed it from Southern hands. He was joined by members of the Irish Brigade, and they gallantly hoisted their banner skyward once again.

New York men, fighting together, all for the Union.

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Pat's--Part 2--A Tribute to the 69th

Thanks to a fellow blogger, Steve Gore of The Picket, I am pushing my personal envelope and trying to use the updated post settings for First Fallen. If you were on last night, it may have looked pretty odd, but we were working! Working, I tell you!

We were working so hard because Steve first posted the clip above in his blog, and I was very taken with it. I truly wanted to share it with my readers, and so . . . here it is.

When Elmer Ellsworth went to New York in 1861 to raise a regiment for Lincoln and the Union, he was not alone. Many others were fired with the same patriotic fervor, and the city of New York was electrified by it all. Job discrimination at the time was responsible for many men of Irish descent being either under-employed, or unable to find work at all. The opportunity serve in the Army meant a regular paycheck, decent clothes, and wholesome food, and there was a certain pride in serving, as always.

The 69th New York was primarily made up of Irishmen, and led by Irishmen (mostly). They arrived in Washington, D. C. at the same time as Ellsworth's Fire Zouaves, a unit with a lot of Irish b'hoys as well.

This short series will look at the 69th from a Fire Zouave perspective--and enjoy the Wolfe Tones!
(ummm--you might want to look up Wolfe Tone--just sayin').

St. Pat's Part 1

Saint Patrick's Day will be celebrated tomorrow in a variety of ways--many of them involving alcohol.

Also, there will be a ton of really racist art images depicting the Irish, much of it derived from Thomas Nast, an Irish-baiter is there ever was one.

Still, I hate to rain on a Saint Patrick's Day Parade! After all, it is almost all we in the Anglo/Irish/English end of the gene pool have left to celebrate our culture. That and the odd fact that Starbuck's sells scones. So, I celebrate by trying to go to Mass, listening to a variety of traditional Irish music, and thinking of the multitude of Irish immigrants and their relatives who proudly became Americans.

The 69th New York and the New York Fire Zouaves will be celebrated here tomorrow.

HUZZAH! ( . . . and a nip of the good stuff!)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shamrocks & Irish Moss

The rain here in my corner of the world is soft and misty. I have never been inIreland, but I always picture the Irish weather ;ike this.

The violas and pansies look good, drinking up the rain and settling their roots, and the roses are filled with red leaves. They start out red, then turn green--you never know with roses.

I got home very late last night from my math class & didn't have time to do a post. I had NO idea the stats would fall off so badly, especially when folks seem to read almost everything except the latest entry.

I will be trying something new with First Fallen on Saturday. Another blogger (Steve G. The Picket) is helping me figure out how to add YouTube clips. This will be really fun, as I still think everyone ought to hear a clawhammer banjo.

Thank you very much, Mr. Lamon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grits With Butter

I get so sick of "American" politicians who know so little about history--old history or new.

If it isn't Sarah Palin screwing up the facts about Paul Revere, it's Mitt Romney thinking that the South is all grits.

Perhaps he should talk to General Hooker.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Salem Zouave's Bayonet Drill

Above is a picture from the website of the Salem, MA Zouaves. There are not a lot of them, but they make up for their numbers by their dedication to depicting the French Zouave Bayonet Drill.

Since I will never be able to see Elmer Ellsworth's Chicago Zouaves, I was looking on the Internet for just such an exhibition as these fine gentlemen have put together. Below are two links to videos of the drill, and one to their website.

Check them out! Mon dieu!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

All Quiet Along the Potomac

Sorry to have missed a day--not feeling 100%--more like 33.3%--lol.

The weather has been beyond lovely, I planted pansies & violas, and finished my first week in Grad School. TA DA!

I also seriously attacked Chapter 5 in First Fallen. I am surprised that it is so well written in the second place, and the third place seems even better.

APU uses the Turabian Style Guide, a version of the Chicago Guide, for formatting papers, and I am using it for the book. I have had to go back & work over a few chapters, but it has helped me very much. Clarity is essential, and consistent formatting helps me to achieve that.

Going to Alexandria & DC was so incredibly helpful. Even though I lost that week for writing, the information more than made up for it. I have five more chapters to rework on this third rewrite, then getting the Endnotes in order, and the Bibliography.

Then maybe it is time to sent it out for read-throughs.

Any takers?

Friday, March 9, 2012

How Can You Lose a Camel??

It's Friday evening, and I am reading--as usual. This time it is a book by Andrew E. Masich called The Civil War in Arizona. I am starting the Picacho Pass post for ECW, and this seemed like as good a place as any.

Of course, it took me right back to Fort Tejon (above, in earlier times). I have already mentioned General James H. Carleton here, and his stint at the Fort. What I didn't know was that he was good buds with another soldier called William McCleave. McCleave served as Carleton's first sergeant in Company K, 1st U. S. Dragoons in the 1850s, and was such a good officer that Carleton asked for his help in forming the California Column.

Apparently McCleave had left the service in 1860 to "oversee the Army's experimental camel herd at Fort Tejon."

And I thought it was all a myth!

There is more, but I can hardly wait for the "Camel Skirmish" to begin right here on this blog! Colonel Ellsworth and I are just gonna sit back & fan the flames!

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Alfred Waud

I was busily researching Mr. Alfred Waud for when I found this link:

It is a link to the Becker Collection, which is an art collection at Emory University that has part of it dedicated to the sketches done by Civil War artists in their capacity as "Special Artists" for a variety of newspapers, Mostly Harper's & Frank Leslie's.

The good folks who manage the collection have put together a site which contains several sketches by Alfred Waud, and by drawing the cursor from left to right, you can see how the sketch morphs from what the artist sent to what the newspaper reader sees.

An example is to the right, although the site has much, MUCH better ones, not divided into two parts as this one is.

If you don't know much about Mr. Waud, check ECW Monday for my post. If you do know about him, at least check out the Becker website. Maybe the link will work this time, but if not, just copy it to your browser.

Even if you are an expert on Waud, check out the link--it is so well done! Hmmm--and check out my ECW post anyway. It helps the blog, it is interesting, and hopefully AJ will be on it. If you don't know who AJ is, check First Fallen, March 3. DO IT!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Restored Henry House at Manassas During a Spring Storm

A Light Exists in Spring
A light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That science cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.

It waits upon the lawn;
It shows the furthest tree
Upon the furthest slope we know;
It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step,
Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,
It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss
Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a sacrament.

by Emily Dickenson, 1864

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bluestocking, Is It Now?

I was talking with a friend at work about things in which I was interested--there are a bunch--but except for NASCAR, few of them have a very large fan base. In fact, there are some cases where I think there are not very many fans at all any more (that would have been the medieval Death-themed poetry).

Then I told her I was getting a Masters in History! Apparently that was the last straw. "But you're a mathematician!" she exclaimed.

I admitted that, yes, I was, but . . . and then it came--"You're just a d_____d bluestocking!"

Well! I never!! (Okay, maybe I did once or twice--) :-)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Housing Crisis

This is my home. No cannon in the yard, but every so often I put out the 1861 version of the Stars & Stripes.

I stayed home today because I am trying to keep my little house from any problems. I had to make a call to the lawyers, and I just hate to conduct personal business at work.

So, more forms to fill out, and maybe this time . . . I am current on my mortgage, so apparently that is a bad thing--lol!

I was going to put up a picture of the Henry House at the Manassas Battlefield, but after looking at several, except for the cannon, I like mine best.

Having a home has meant the world to me. I am no longer the crazed, cutting Goth I used to be. OK--I still have purple hair & my eyebrows are pierced, but I am sane & focused, and that is something I never thought I would be able to say.

TMI? Probably.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saving Fort Tejon

Morning at the Fort, on the Southern side. There is a Northern side, a Civilian side, and a Dragoon side as well. All are inspiring and fulfilling. I know. This is the site of my Civil War--up North, that is.

But a new generation of reenactors who grow up to be historians won't have that same chance if the state of California shutters this historic location. So, below is a membership application. A new type of member has been added--and it only costs $5.00. You don't have to live anywhere near CA to join & help save this landmark. I don't live near Gettysburg, but it is part of our history, and they get my money. Fort Tejon deserves the same. Please consider joining, or if that is not forceful enough: JOIN!!! NOW!!!




A. thru E. check one – All memberships (A, B & D) include an email subscription to the FTHA newsletter

A. Individual Membership $30.00. Must be 18 years of age or older.

B. Family Membership $40.00. Includes legal spouse and dependent children under age 18. Member and spouse both must

initial and sign general liability release. Membership cards are issued to children 13 years and older.

C. Minor(s) Without Parents. Requires Family Membership $40.00 and completed Guardian Assignment form for each

participating minor. Refer to Section 12 of the FTHA Civil War Rules and Regulations for information regarding minor


D. Day Pass $10.00. Issued to individuals for one event only. Day Pass may be modified to any membership within 30 days

of purchase; forward unpaid balance with Day Pass to Membership Director.

E. Supporting Membership $5.00 Non-participating / non-voting individuals. Receive FTHA newsletter via email.

Complete F thru K only.


F. NAME BIRTH DATE Director Use Only

Member ______________________________________________ ____________________________ Event / Mail

Spouse ______________________________________________ ____________________________ Amount Paid

Child ______________________________________________ ____________________________ Cash / Check No.

Child ______________________________________________ ____________________________ Date Data Entered

Child ______________________________________________ ____________________________ Date Card Mailed

Child ______________________________________________ ____________________________ Number Cards Mailed

G. Street Address: __________________________________________________________________

Mailing Address: ________________________________________________________________

City: ____________________________________________________ State: ______ Zip: ____________

H. Home Phone: __________________________________ Work/Cell Phone: ____________________________________

Email 1: ______________________________________ E:mail 2: ___________________________________________

I. Have you been a member of the FTHA in the past? Yes / No

J. Mail the newsletter to me in hard copy (Add $5 to membership fee above)

K. Are you interested in participating on any of the administrative committees or at the post store? Yes / No




FTHA, POB 630586, SIMI VALLEY, CA 93063-0586

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Becoming Alfred Waud

OK--you have to love this!

Somewhere in America, a teacher has assigned young AJ to dress as Alfred Waud & present a report for his class.

The teacher suggested mom rent a costume for $40.00.

I was unaware that an Alfred Waud costume even existed--who knew?

Mom made one for $5.20, and blogged about it. The link to her blog is:

Personally, I am DYING to hear AJ's report!

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Our Special Artists"

The man to the right is Mr. Alfred Waud. He & his brother were artists who worked for large, East coast newspapers during the Civil War.

I am spending the weekend with the Waud brothers.

Next week, maybe Thomas Nast, and the week after that, Mr. Winslow Homer. Then I will be looking South for their Confederate counterparts.

At some point I will be weekending with Paul Philippoteaux, of Gettysburg Cyclorama fame.

It was these brave man who were pioneers in the then-quickly expanding field of war correspondent. They are an amazing group, collectively--and even more amazing individually.

Now, of course, we have I-reporters . . .

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Daffodils at Ft. Ward

The week I was in Alexandria was weather perfect. I guess not so much just now, but at least there are no hurricanes.

There were daffodils.

I have no idea who planted these beauties in the woods of Fort Ward, but I am sure glad they did. Bulbs are a sure harbinger of Spring, but they have to be planted, or at least daffs do.