Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summertime, & the livin' is easy . . . even if blogging is NOT!

The image to the left is what I face daily, more or less, during the California summer. 

I live in Heaven.

Within a few hours driving is desert, or mountains, or snow, or forest, or city--

Vineyards abound, as do farms with fresh fruit & veggies. The fog comes in from the ocean in the mornings and evenings, soft and gray, like poems.

It is like being suspended in time & space, until school begins again. For these reasons, this blog has been sketchy this summer.

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. 

More Chardonnay?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Better late than never--I hope!

Yesterday my long-awaited post/interview of Harry Katz went up on

His book is just wonderful, and worth every penny, so go buy it. We talk a lot about bias in my Master's classes, and it is books like this one that help me form my opinion: bias is great!

No, I don't believe that publishing books denying the Holocaust is fine, but I do think that passion for a topic, often misinterpreted as bias, is just fine.

Were it not for the passion/bias of Mr. Katz, and his belief that people need to see these images and learn about the men who created them, we would all be far poorer in our knowledge.

A historian has to believe in what she does, and she needs to work very hard to make people care about the things she loves. This is NOT the same as plainly twisting information to make a point, or trumpeting as facts information that is contradictory. This is bias, and poor history as well.

But this book?  Oh no! This is a labor of love and respect--we should ALL be biased in favor of those two qualities, no matter the topic.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

OK--He's hot--sorry!

After yesterday, I wasn't sure if my blog would survive. I had no idea there were so many Custer fans out there, and several came out with fangs bared.

So, I went back to the archives & found a picture of the man showing him to be a very attractive fellow.

One question: the "cleft" in his chin.

It is asymmetrical, and I checked a boatload of images. This says--to me!--that it is not a cleft, but a deep scar.

Now with things in an uproar worldwide, I know this isn't exactly pressing, but . . .

any thoughts?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hey Mr. Custer

I never thought this would happen. I am NOT a Custer fan. I don't even think he is attractive, which is my final deciding point for all historical figures.

To prove my point, the scrawny guy to the right is Custer at West Point. One can't help but be phallically interested by the teeny gun he is holding . . . just sayin'.

Anyway, seems Custer might have been the lynchpin at Gettysburg. The only way the Pickett/Pettigrew charge makes sense is if Lee had figured he'd hit the Union from the rear at the same time.

Apparently young, flamboyant, obnoxious Custer foiled Lee's plan.

I am ordering books and reading papers about all this as we speak.

I'd love a day with Colonel Ellsworth and no interruptions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sunsets and Battlefields

The sun is setting here in Hollister as I am writing this post. This suggested to me to look for some sunset images of the Civil War, and I found several.

This is one of my Gettysburg battlefield pictures. The picture was taken at sunset on Little Round Top. The "person" in the foreground is actually the statue of Major General Gouvernor K. Warren, the "saviour of Gettysburg". It was Warren who realized that Little Round Top had been left undefended by the Union army. He sent orders for nearby troops to occupy the hill, which they did less than half an hour before the Confederate attack.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some Day My Prince Will Come . . .

To the right is Sun-Tzu's philosophical partner in warcraft, Niccolo Machiavelli.

Next week we move on to Jomini & Clausewtiz. 

As you can see in Nico's mind, there is a fax & a lion. A Prince should be as cunning as a fox, but as brave as a lion when necessary.

There are times when I wonder why I need to know all this. Then I think of Generals Grant and Lee, and I know.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Sun-Tze & the Art of War

Meet Sun Tzu--my new best friend. Well, he & Machiavelli. 

I am enjoying this summer's classes, but GEEZ! Now when I play World of Warcraft, I am looking at things strategically. 

What is the terrain like? How strong is my enemy? Is my stun shot working? Should I have gotten a bigger crossbow?

Do these boots make me look fat?

I have decided I am waaaaay more the fox than the lion--a Machiavellian idea. But poor Colonel Ellsworth fairs poorly when looked at through the lenses of these two military philosophers.

Ah well, Ellsworth was just 24, and not used to delegating.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Civil War Sketch Book Interview

The gentleman to the right is Mr. Harry Katz. He has written several great pictorial books, two of which I own--Baseball Americana & Civil War Sketch Book.

He was a curator for the Library of Congress for years, and has done some two dozen exhibits for them. 

He is a very nice man. Plus he likes baseball & the Civil War.

The Sketch Book is features in the May, 2012 National Geographic, so go read about it. Please.

Then remember all the work done here and at on the Special Artists who drew the sketches from which Frank Leslie's and Harper's created their illustrations.  

Embedded journalists are common now, but not then--it was a dangerous and exciting job--groundbreaking, in fact.

Reread the posts in ECW, and First Fallen, of course, and get ready to read my interview with Mr. Katz as soon as it comes up.

I'll let you know.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th, so I thought I'd look at something superstitious. The above picture is the marker at Gettysburg for Patrick O'Rorke, who was not so lucky in July of 1963.

However, there is a superstition that, if you rub O'Rorke's nose, you will be lucky. This has resulted in giving the former Civil War colonel' marker a very shiny nose!

In researching this tidbit, I found many people who have personal Gettysburg superstitions. Seems each time they visit the battlefield, they must touch one marker or another, or else they will be unlucky until they return to rectify their mistake.

Here is a great quote from General Grant concerning superstitions:

Everyone has his superstitions. One of mine has always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, never to turn back or to stop until the thing intended was accomplished.

Seems he lived by his words, at least at Petersburg.

Good luck, everyone!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Which is Your Favorite Abe Lincoln?

I was reading reviews of AL;Vampire Hunter yesterday, when I found this.


Anyone have any more they'd care to share?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Thought the Civil War Was Our National Pastime!

The results of my work on 1860s baseball can be seen TODAY--All-Star Game day--at

As usual, Kris and Chris have done me well and made my post look great. I happen to be proud of it, and would appreciate your opinions as well.

What usually happens, however, is that I work very hard on something, write it up, edit it, then make sure the writing is elegant and easy to read--and no one says anything. The ones I send in (both here and there) that I know still have a wart or two, or are a scosh shaky somewhere--those get the big numbers.

I try.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Period Base Ball at Fort Tejon

In researching my blog for the All Star game for, which should be up tomorrow--I finally found a photo of some of the guys playing ball at Fort Tejon. 

I am thinking it was in the '80s (1980s) that the civilians were looking around for something to do on Saturday afternoons. We had many spectators who showed up looking for battles on the wrong day, and we felt they should get something for their efforts.

The Ohio Village Muffins had just been in maybe the Smithsonian Magazine, and the playing of Vintage Base Ball was relatively new. We set up some bleachers with boards and barrels, printed up a little pamphlet for the cranks who would be watching our games, and had peanuts-in-the-shell in cones made from repros of Harper's Weekly.

It was great fun. My favorite memory was when some striker hit the ball to the outfield, and then-Corporal Bill Agnew doffed his kepi and caught the ball in his hat.

Check out today for an addition (Thomas Nast) to my series on Civil War Artists, and tomorrow for my piece on Base Ball and the Civil War.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Home Run Quickstep

One of the tunes on my current favorite CD of Brass Band music is called the "Home Run Quickstep."

I found it difficult to understand, frankly. There is a bell that rings at odd times during the song. The bell is sort of like one of those that works like a buzzer. I am not explaining this very well. Sorry.

Anyway, during my investigations into Civil War Base Ball I found out that an Ace (a run) was announced to the audience by the ringing of a bell! 

So, the whole point of the piece of music is the bell--exactly the point I was not understanding. 

Pretty cool. The piece is on an album of great tunes called Hurrah For the Union! by the Federal City Brass Band. I bought it when I was in Alexandria, but it is available at this link:

Buy it. 

Elmer would have wanted you to.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Taking Me Out To the Ball game--Part 2

The gentleman to the left is Abner Doubleday, alleged Father of American Baseball. Or was he?

Although Doubleday's fame ought to be based on his performances at Fort Sumter and Gettysburg, he is best remembered as the alleged "inventor" of baseball in Elihu Phinney's cow pasture in Cooperstown, New York, 1839.

How did this come about? The Mills Commission was appointed in 1905 to determine the origin of baseball. Its final report, on December 30, 1907 stated:

 . . . the first scheme for playing baseball, according to the best evidence obtainable to date, was devised by Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. . . . in the years to come, in the view of the hundreds of thousands of people who are devoted to baseball, and the millions who will be, Abner Doubleday's fame will rest evenly, if not quite as much, upon the fact that he was its inventor . . . as his brilliant and distinguished career as an officer in the Federal Army.

hmmm . . .

Friday, July 6, 2012

Taking Me Out To the Ball Game--Part 1

To the right is a baseball card from the 1860s. Or maybe just a picture.

With the All-Star Game coming soon, I thought that a look at baseball would not be amiss. After all, one of my favorite Ellsworthian images is the one of which John Hay wrote: Ellsworth was playing ball with them as we approached, looking fine and blouzy in his red shirt.

If you have not seen the Conan O'Brian posts on 1864 baseball, look them up. I will try to get one embedded here, altho I had little luck today.

I am putting together a longer post for on baseball & the Civil War, but you readers get to see the goodies first.

Ah! Summer! and all for the Union!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pickett's Charge

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two oclock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is sitll time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago….
— William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Getting ready for the 4th--

I am learning how to insert things from YouTube here. My first effort was Irish, and this is my second. I will try tomorrow with more brass bands, because Lord knows we need 'em!

Monday, July 2, 2012

emerging civil war--read it!

My fireworks blog for is up today, and it looks excellent! Please try to take the time to read it. 

Everyone's stats are bad this summer (especially mine!) so don't forget to check in on your favorite blogs. Everyone gets busy in the summer months, including writers and bloggers, but we are still here!

I will even get to the kind comments folks have made, soon--I promise!

All for the Union!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

. . . and the flag is up!

The first chore of the month is done--the flag is up!

It wasn't quite Iwo Jima, but it took a bit of teamwork. It looks wonderful, btw.

Later today I will offer some sources for brass band recordings. What is the 4th without a band? There are several wonderful Civil War re-enactment bands, and if I can figure out how to do it, I will try a music download.

What do you do for the 4th?