Meanwhile, some unplesant reading for Georgia's economists:
* Suffolk, Virginia has downgraded its annual Civil War weekend to a generic festival
* Gettysburg has been shedding tourists for years.
Think about what that says about the general run of nonfiction readers.
Myself, I am remiss in not reading Extraordinary Circumstances which has long been at hand. The frightening aspects of EC, for me, are the kudos and acknowledgements. These are overwhelmingly weighted with secondary source Centennial doctrinal scripture. Or to put it another way, Burton is personally inspired by that ACW history that repulses me the most - the non-negotiable belief system constructed by the editorial directors of American Heritage Magazine 50 years ago. My poison, his pleasure.
The question in reading his opus will be how much the suppression of evidence by his heroes affects his own research and conclusions. I'll report back on this. Whatever the result, I don't think I'll hold it against Burton personally. I'm too impressed by his "love these guys, got to do my own thinking" ethos.
A one-man show: "... actor Gary Sloan—along with his collaborators—has adapted Booth’s letters and selections from the actor’s famous Shakespeare roles."
The show will not run on April 14, by the way.
(Booth with his daughter shown at right.)
The survey, conducted by Washington research group Synovate, found that 56 percent of the history buffs earned $50,000 or more. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed were 45 or older. They tended to travel as a couple and without children.
The encounter material is poorly sourced. For what it's worth, the year is 1846, Morphy is approaching nine years old.
The Evening Post relates this story:
"Gen. Winfield Scott ... had many aquaintances there (at a chess club on Royal St.), some of them quite intimate, and knowing the habits of the members he repaired to their very comfortable rooms within a few hours after reaching the city. It may be said to have been one of his vanities as well.
He [Scott] was in the front rank of amateurs in his day....he turned to Chief Justice Eustis and asked whether he could play a game of chess in the evening...."I want to be put to my mettle!"
"Very well," said Justice Eustis, "We'll arrange it. At eight o'clock tonight, if that will suit you."
At eight o'clock, dinner having been disposed of, the room was full. Gen. Scott, a towering giant, was asked to meet his competitor, a small boy of about 10 [actually, he was eight and a half] and not by any means a prepossessing boy, dressed in velvet knickerbockers, with a lace shirt and a big spreading collar of the same material.
At first Gen. Scott imagined it was a sorry jest, and his tremendous dignity arose in protest. It seemed to him that his friends had committed an incredible and unpardonable impertinence. Then Justice Eustis assured him that his wish had been scrupulously consulted; that this boy was....quite worthy of his notice.
So the game began with Gen. Scott still angry and by no means satisfied. Paul won the move and advanced his Queen's rook's pawn. In response to the General's play he advanced other pawns. Next he had two knights on the field; then another pawn opened the line for the Queen, and at the tenth move he had the General checkmated before he had even begun to develop his defense.
There was only one more game.
Paul Morphy, after the sixth move, marked the spot and announced the movement for the debacle - which occurred according to schedule - and the General arose trembling with amazement and indignation. Paul was taken home, silent as usual, and the incident reached the end.
The few survivors of that era still talk of Paul Morphy's first appearance in public, but only by hearsay. Gen. Scott lived to wonder that he should have ever played with the first chess genius of the century, or for that matter, of any other century."
My problem with this account, historiographically, is that Winfield Scott is here arriving in New Orleans under arrest; Gideon Pillow (right) had had him arrested in Mexico and Scott was being repatriated to Washington to stand trial. Scott had the pleasure of having Pillow arrested as well, but the consolation must have been small.
Chess notes on "Paul won the move [drew the White side] and advanced his queen's rook's pawn."
This could refer to a2 - a3. In that case, you might think it represents Anderssen's Opening. It would but not under that name. Oddly enough, the name "Anderssen's Opening" appears to have originated when Adolf Anderssen used it himself three times in one famous match against Paul Morphy in 1858. Did Morphy invent Anderssen's Opening? We find no trace of it in his recorded early games. People call this a time wasting move but it allows the White player to make himself Black by exchanging the initiative. If Morphy drew White and wanted to play Black against Scott, this move would serve that purpose.
"Advanced his queen's rook's pawn" could also refer to a2 - a4. In that case, Morphy would be playing the Ware Opening. This opening also exchanges the initiative but is weaker than a3 because it exposes the pawn to attack. Morphy played Preston Ware in New York 11 years after the match with Scott and the opening played was more conventional. BTW, Ware was seven years older than Morphy and not likely to have had an opening named after him at the time Morphy played Scott.
Roughly 20 years ago, Dean [Thomas] was doing research at the Archives and made a photocopy of one of the documents. He then used that information in a book he wrote entitled Round Ball to Rimfire: A History of Civil War Small Arms Ammunition. "I called the Archives [after seeing the document on eBay] to see if they were having a sale," Dean said with a laugh.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin posthumously recognized Father Thomas O’Reilly with the Phoenix Award, which was placed by his marker at Atlanta City Hall on March 9.With good reason:
It was in the fall of 1864 that Father O’Reilly first heard of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s plan to destroy the entire city of Atlanta by fire. Father O’Reilly was outraged and Patrick Lynch drove the priest to speak to Gen. Henry Slocum, a subordinate of Gen. Sherman. “In this meeting, Father O’Reilly argued that the order to burn homes and churches was beyond the normal confines of warfare,” Mears said. “Father O’Reilly pleaded for a compromise that would spare Atlanta’s five churches.”
At first Gen. Sherman rejected the priest’s proposal. But Father O’Reilly would not relent and reminded the general that many of his own troops were Catholics and would create a mutiny if Catholic churches were burned. As a result of Father O’Reilly’s heroics, five churches in Atlanta—St. Philip Episcopal Church, Central Presbyterian Church, Trinity Methodist Church and Second Baptist Church, as well as the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception [top right, shown in 1848], were spared. In addition, Atlanta City Hall, the Fulton County Courthouse and a residential area between Mitchell and Peters streets were saved.
Sir: We the undersigned, Mayor and two of the Council for the city of Atlanta, for the time being the only legal organ of the people of the said city, to express their wants and wishes, ask leave most earnestly but respectfully to petition you to reconsider the order requiring them to leave Atlanta. [...] As you advanced, the people north of this fell back; and before your arrival here, a large portion of the people had retired south, so that the country south of this is already crowded, and without houses enough to accommodate the people, and we are informed that many are now staying in churches and other out-buildings.
This being so, how is it possible for the people still here (mostly women and children) to find any shelter? And how can they live through the winter in the woods—no shelter or subsistence, in the midst of strangers who know them not, and without the power to assist them much, if they were willing to do so?
This is but a feeble picture of the consequences of this measure. You know the woe, the horrors, and the suffering, cannot be described by words; imagination can only conceive of it, and we ask you to take these things into consideration. [...]
GENTLEMEN: I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from Atlanta. I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned, and yet shall not revoke my orders, because they were not designed to meet the humanities of the case, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta have a deep interest.
We must have peace, not only at Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war, we must defeat the rebel armies which are arrayed against the laws and Constitution that all must respect and obey. To defeat those armies, we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses, provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose. Now, I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, that we may have many years of military operations from this quarter; and, therefore, deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time. The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families.
There will be no manufactures, commerce, or agriculture here, for the maintenance of families, and sooner or later want will compel the inhabitants to go. Why not go now, when all the arrangements are completed for the transfer,—instead of waiting till the plunging shot of contending armies will renew the scenes of the past months."Sherman as welfare case officer. The city officials have just told him why not - the city is made up of single parent families with no means of sustaining themselves. They can "get by" in the city now, or try to. To leave is to accelerate their doom.
This has quite a story behind it, being a never-published thesis powerful enough to influence a generation of revisionist historians. The author (Edward Cunningham) is/remains deceased (+1997), which underscores the power of the manuscript he authored.
Long-dead author, unpublished ms and yet great influence. Impressive.
The introduction to this work is a wonderful piece of historiography and I hope Ted Savas makes it available on his site (in the style of Amazon's "Look Inside" links).
This good news is accompanied by word that Russel Beatie's Army of the Potomac Vol. 3 is just now going to press after a delay. Patience. It will be worth it.
An incompetent news story was filed with the Associated Press and is being run nationally ("The office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said that all but a handful of the items have been recovered.").
Thanks to a press release, we learn the exact count - that 161 of the 165 documents were recovered. We don't know which ones are missing or if the count represents the sum total of thieving.
Computerworld had sense enough to look up the seller's eBay satisfaction rating and found it at 100%. They also found the accused thief's website. This is the kind of color reporters used to build into reporting before they became less informative than a press release.
More details are available from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Philly's Daily News augmented the flimsy AP report.
We are living in a society that struggles (unsuccessfully) every day to understand that pederasts volunteer to work with children, pyromaniacs join fire brigades, and thieves offer to work with rare objects. Each new lesson somehow fails to stick.
Not much more of substance is known about the Baker [grave]stone... What has not been verified is who erected it, exactly when it was erected, or whether it actually marks the site of Baker's death.Nothing about Ball's Bluff is easy, you see. Nothing at all.
For Don Vandergriff, the answer has always lain with the personnel system. After decades of crying in the wilderness, Vandergriff retired in 2005 and immediately expanded his influence. TRADOC - the Army's Training and Doctrine Command - hired him (through a consultancy) to shape its young leaders.
Personally, I think that when you create "adaptive" leaders (as he calls them) and place them at the disposal of a 19th Century hierarchy and its rigid bureaucratic value system, that system will exploit "adaptiveness" to pile on more rules, more controls, more formal process. By creating "adaptives," you increase the red tape coping mechanisms that will facilitate even more red tape.
This effect is the natural complement to the tendency to use new technology in the service of the same 19th Century value system.
So it seems to me. But judge for yourselves.
I say this as an infantryman who once faced (modern) spartans - facing them not as a small P persian but as a small A athenian. The Thermopylae of history may be a paradigm for spartans across eternity but are you that eternal spartan? Do you even know what an (historical) Spartan was? Is this vicarious identification offered you by moviemakers sensible, decent, or authentic?
My friends, some Hollywood talespinners have inveigled you into the worst sort of ACW-type of nonsense.
Ball's Bluff is the appropriate paradigm for all small A athenians. Die on your own terms with no hope of turning the battle, no paeans, no glimmer of success. The best men from the best backgrounds led by the best of motives came to grief with no recourse, no court of higher appeals, no redemption trancending their own personal honor, decency, and spiritual destinies. There was no history to appeal to - they were writing it.
No one could ever say, "This chap, at least, did a great job at Ball's Bluff." These Union men died in a fiasco.
I went into this briefly with Gerald Prokopowicz when I said that McClellan's wartime story was our daily reality, our truth, while Grant's story is our fantasy, an indecent lie that sustains us. Ball's Bluff is McClellan's fate writ large; it is often the best we can hope for and defpite being a fizzle demands no less from us than would a glorious victory.
The defeated at Ball's Bluff did not kill enough (p)ersians to earn a screenplay but they earned a few words from Emily Dickinson (right). My punctuation and capitalization:
My portion is defeat today
A paler luck than victory
Less paeans - fewer bells
The drums don't follow me with tunes
Defeat - a somewhat slower means
More arduous than balls
'Tis populous with bone and stain
And men too straight to stoop again
And piles of solid moan
And chips of blank
in boyish eyes
And scraps of prayer
and death's surprise
stamped visible in stone
There's somewhat prouder, over there
The trumpets tell it to the air
How different victory to him who has it
and the one who to have had it,
would have been contenteder to die.
Washington became president in 1789. By the time Lincoln began drawing his pay in 1861, he would have needed to be paid $24,100 in order to maintain parity with Washington according to the Consumer Price Index. Lincoln's $25k/year was worth more because the dollar had increased in value.
For the incumbent to have drawn the equivalent of Lincoln's pay in 2005, he would need to have gotten $309,210 per year. Fortunately for him in 1999 his income was raised to $400,000.
Have a look at this fascinating Web toy.
(1) Ancient news story announcing the mysterion's accession.
(2) "Beard" featured in an ancient press release.
(3) A banker in Utah who does not head the ALPLM.
(4) That banker again.
(5) A repeat of (2).
(6) Amazon's listing of a book edited by the mysterion.
(7) A repeat of (6).
(8) An inaccessible nine-year-old interview with "Rick Beard."
(9) Contact details for a 25-year-old living in Steger, IL, who does not head the ALPLM. He is single and a Pisces. He does not want kids.
(10) A posting on my blog.
Top 10 results searching Google news for "Rick Beard"....
(1) "Rick Beard of the Bank of American Fork recently presented a check to American Fork for $79000..."
Nought in positions (2) - (10).
The dynamic behind the list seems to be a calculated play for local press coverage. In other words, sites appear to be selected on the basis of where local press might make the most difference rather than a considered ranking of where the greatest danger threatens battlefields in this year.
* Sheridan, replacing Sherman, could not make up Sherman's bureaucratic losses; he lost ground himself, especially to SecWar Robert Lincoln (right). He also lost interest in his work, becoming another derelict general officer (in Schofield's words, "General Scott went to New York and General Sherman to St. Louis, while General Sheridan stayed in Washington.").
Recall that a decade ago, Colin Powell was using the current pop history construct of McClellan to denigrate certain tendencies in commanders. McClellan was a stick with which to beat certain devils. It struck me as ignorant and unfair; even if pop history had "got it right," still no modern commander would dream of running the risks run by junk history's cardboard version of McClellan. Not in this day.
It did not occur to me at the time that Powell might be jabbing Schwarzkopf; this same article offers dots to connect:
The issue of the accusation of "McClellan-ism" came from a civilian advisor to the President, and did cause some second-guessing of Schwarzkopf's planning and abilities. This was not to be done without some shielding and screening from Powell acting as the liaison from the CINCCENT (Commander-in-Chief US Central Command) to the President. Schwarzkopf's requests for additional forces were met, and even exceeded his requirements. This served to build trust between the two generals, but there were also a few heated discussions.The joint forces commander in the first Gulf War was, in accordance with the murk favored by modern high commands, neither Schwarzkopf nor Powell but HRH Khaled bin Sultan, a Saudi officer. Obviously he was not "a civilian advisor to the president," but he wrote in his memoirs many things resonating with a cartoonish McClellanism in the U.S. effort. Let's start with the McClellan intelligence meme:
There was, for example little agreement inside the Coalition about how many Iraqi troops were deployed in the Kuwait Theater of Operations. This was to be the subject of much debate and controversy after the war. Intelligence analysts had come up with a figure of 547,000. As I understand it, this estimate of the Iraqi troop strengthwas arrived at by multiplying the number of Iraqi divisions known to be in the theater by the number of troops an Iraqi division was supposed to have - or had had in the Iraq-Iran war.I note (once again) that this was Pinkerton's methodology in estimating Rebels and that he (unlike modern intel types, it seems) was extremely accurate in identifying enemy units in theater. Khaled continues, "...postwar research has suggested that these intelligence estimates were hugely inflated..." He makes the embarassing observation that "there was simply no room in the Kuwait theater for the numerous full strength divisions which western intelligence agencies believed were there."
The McClellan "readiness meme" also appears in several places. Khaled on the American general Fred Franks: "Before moving, he wanted to be sure all his supplies were in place and that there was no possibility of an enemy counterattack."
As I saw it, Schwarzkopf's contribution to the conceptual basis of the campaign was a reluctance to take risks. As a military commander, he was careful rather than bold. Right up until the end, he persisted in believing - and declaring - that Iraq was a formidable opponent which should not be underestimated. He seemed particularly apprehensive about Saddam's armored Republican Guard divisions. Hence his pressure for more and more troops, planes and supplies, and for the Abrams M1A1 battle tank...Khaled accidentally touches on legends of the McClellan entourage when he recalls Schwarzkopf's stay in Riyadh:
Schwarzkopf surrounded himself with a great deal of very visible security - a posse of soldiers and plainclothesmen accompanied him everywhere, guns at the ready. I felt obliged to do the same. If a Saudi on the street saw Schwarzkopf's armed escort and then saw me with just one or two guards, he would immediately conclude that Schwarzkopf was the supreme commander. That I could not allow.One wonders if Khaled's co-author, Briton Patrick Seale, was consciously evoking a certain pre-packaged constellation of negative traits.
Well, the sword has two edges, and in recent times the McClellan-bashing Powell has been poked with his own stick. Khaled has not fared well either.
And it is amusing to see columnists wonder now if Petraeus is Grant or McClellan (meaning, of course, whether our incomplete understanding better matches the false Grant archetype or the false McClellan archtype).
... he remarked … that the exceptionally large, flat feet of one of the leading female singers meant “the beetles wouldn’t have much of a chance there!” During most of the opera, Wilson recalled, the President “sat in the rear of the box leaning his head against the partition, paying no attention to the play and looking … worn and weary.” When Wilson asked if he were enjoying the opera, Lincoln replied: “Oh, no, Colonel; I have not come for the play but for the rest. I am being hounded to death by office seekers...”This is in 1863, mind you.
But when Mary asked if he would like to leave before the ending, he said “Oh no, I want to see it out. It’s best when you undertake a job to finish it.”
p.s. Hope to see Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman in Baltimore Saturday night. Jacques Offenbach's sister brought opera to Civil War Galveston.
(Topside: a flutist from 1968, Vienna)
Is it my imagination or is the political historian of the war generally a hash slinger? It seems to me that all local variations and peculiarities are stirred into big pots of tasteless mush labeled "Republican" or "Democrat." This makes it impossible to trace patterns of patronage and party alignments down to state and local levels.
And if you cannot trace such patterns, you can have no clear idea of when the national interest or the war effort are being subordinated to something less lofty.
There are exceptions to this carelessness with distinctions. I think most well-read ACW readers know, for instance, that there was no Republican Party in Simon Cameron's Pennsylvania - the odium associated with the name was too damning. But the question remains (for me at least) as to how the People's Party got delegates into the Republican convention of 1860. Or did they?
Deep readers also know that in Rhode Island, the Democrats were the party of Lincoln (hence the collaboration with Governor Sprague and Ambrose Burnside) while the Republicans were anti-Lincoln radicals. How did Lincolnian patronage work in that state? And in Pennsylvania?
Something that has bothered me for a long time has been the short shrift given by the common run of political histories to the National Union Party. (If the name of that outfit sounds unfamiliar to you, do me the favor of firing your favorite authors.)
I especially want to know how its formation affected the flow of patronage after November 1864.
The new Blair biography reminds me I am not getting my needs met in these political tomes.
(Picture, topside: Frank Blair, not a Radical unionist, not a Liberal Republican.)
The people who position McPherson as the greatest living historian of the Civil War have to do a substantive job making their case. The endless iteration of empty superlatives paints them as sub-par readers and is no help to the man who accepts these inane accolades.
McPherson's interactions with an adoring public remind me of the schoolyard satire of Witold Gombrowicz:
Teacher: And so class, what is it about the incomparable beauty and sweetness of this author's verses that make us adore him as the first and foremost poet of his age? Anyone? Jan?Gombrowicz also invented the characters Professor Philidor and his nemesis Antiphilidor. In view of my creeping Anti-philidorianism, I am going to suspend criticisim of America's love affair with McPherson. Let us have peace, whether or not we can reconstruct McPherson or his public.
Jan: Could it be the incomparable beauty and sweetness of the verses?
Teacher: No, Jan, I am asking what is it in that incomparable beauty and sweetness that we all recognize, that makes our hearts beat faster with love and pride and exhiliration such that we crown this man Poet of the Nation as well as Poet of the Age. Yes, Jacek.
Jacek: Is it a certain quality that makes our hearts beat faster with love and pride and exhiliration?
Teacher: No, listen to me. What is that quality that causes us to sing the praises of this mighty incomparable man of letters whose verses of sweetness and beauty cause us to feel utterly unworthy to partake of the same air, whose nobility of character elevates us all and whose poetic insights will never be matched? Anyone?
You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result."--Lincoln, in a letter to Gustavus Fox on May 1, 1861.To the letter writer, this is the "smoking gun" that proves Lincoln sought war. Is that what it means?
The writer quotes Karl Marx:
The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty.If you look at it from the outside, for instance if you consider cotton revenues as a proportion of the national income, this is plausible. The U.S. then was like one of the modern oil sheikhdoms. The counterpart to today's "No blood for oil" would naturally have been, "No blood for cotton."
But these economic arguments are reductionist approaches to understanding complex historical events; they look for the single driver. They are the flip side of the incomplete argument "slavery caused the war."
What baffles is why Lincoln (a supposedly sophisticated thinker) would flirt with reductionism - "our anticipation is justified by the result."
I am pleased to report the coffee is downright Abe-a-licious. I had a cup of Swiss chocolate almond-something. Given the authenticity of the museum, I assume it is the type of coffee Abraham Lincoln drank. But the next time I go to the cafe, I am going to take my own cup. I try to avoid drinking coffee from foam cups whenever possible.Styrofoam? Authenticity, where art thou?
This journalist goes on to profile the cafeteria worker who makes Abe-a-licious coffee: "Ron wears many hats. He cleans tables, sweeps the floor, rides herd on visiting school kids and answers many, many questions about Lincoln."
Absolutely mesmerizing. And "Rick Beard," where art thou?
>> Author: Gary Gallagher, et al, June 2003:
The American Civil War: This Mighty Scourge of War
>> Author: James McPherson, January 2007:
This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War
Well, you don't read McPherson for originality, anyway. Synthesis is his thing. Synthesis in book titles, even. Gallagher shouldn't mind. They're pals.
More interesting is the case of Catherine Clinton. Clinton is one of the very few known graduate students of the greatest living Civil War historian to actually be practicing in or near the field of Civil War history.
A few years ago she noticed there had been no Harriet Tubman biography for adults in decades. I recall interviews in which she pointed proudly to her forthcoming first-in-a-long-time Tubman tome. She piqued my interest.
Unlucky lady. Too many people had the same idea at the same time and she found her competing authors' release dates synched up with her own. On no - a flood of Tubman bios!
Enter her teacher McPherson.
In his New York Review of Books gig, McPherson lumped Clinton's Tubman biography into an omnibus review with all the others, not giving her the courtesy of solo consideration.
Clinton's stuff was so buried in McPherson's recapitualted and synthesized material that now, a naive newspaper reviewer recapping that one essay (as redone in Mighty Scourge), missed Clinton altogether. Have a look. Catherine who?
If these are the perks for McPherson's friends, why bother?
p.s. Another slight on Clinton's work here.
By comparison, if you post to Usenet and read it on Google Groups, your reading and writing supports Google's advertising revenue. You don't get a share.
Here's an Abe Lincoln thread. USENET-quality writing is here, but now posters are getting money to write up such insights as, "Abraham Lincoln was a man of Character, of Ethics, of Morals. The world has not seen the likes of such a man since him."
Fascinating. The business model, I mean.
So let us now praise James McPherson, our premier living Civil War historian, for a bracing collection of essays ... It will seduce anyone, Civil War neophyte or fanatic, for its authority and judgments.If you are in the market for "authority" and "judgements" I think we have a book for you. Those of you interested in history - in research, discovery, and analysis - check back another time.
According to the WVU Arts and Entertainment Web site, renowned historians, writers and political scientists such as James McPherson, Mark Russell and Sarah Vowell will speak on "the man, the myth, the martyr and American hero" who was Abraham Lincoln. My question to the University is: Who cares? [...] I have heard students chuckle as they flip through the pages of this paper when they see who the upcoming speakers will be.Good. Nobody needs an over-the-top lovefest in a setting dedicated to developing critical thinking.
Meanwhile, Wonkette's interest in McPherson is aptly mocked with exclamations of "Nerdgasm!"