Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lee was not executed after the Civil War for a reason recognized by both the people of the South and the North...the General was a good and decent man.   Yet, with but a brief review of human history, a hard truth becomes undeniable...that it's good and decent men who do the most damage.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

In preparing to write my novel, "Ethan's Peach Tree," I read many diaries of Civil War soldiers.  The notes I made were voluminous, and today, while sorting through some of those notes, I came across one that is particularly poignant.  I apologize for not being able to tell you whose diary this is taken from:

     "...the next day our regiment marched across a part of the battlefield where the fighting had been heavy.  The burial details were at work.  It was a shock to me, Mother, but the smell of blood and death no longer has an effect on me.  It wasn't until a breeze came up and I caught the fragrance of flowers that I began to cry..."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

General Henry J. Hunt, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac

An accurate assessment of a man can't soley be made by what his friends have to say of him.  Included in the assessment must also be what his enemies have to say.  The following comes from Edward Longacre's book, "The Man Behind the Guns:"

     On the day following the hell of Antietam, the crew of a Confederate battery saw a group of Federal officers riding near, surveying the rebel lines through field glasses.  One was conspicuous for his pale horse.
     The range was tempting.  "Let's give them a shot!" cried one cannoneer.
     But a comrade raised his hand: "No, that's General Hunt, the chief of artillery; whenever you see him on his white horse look out for a battery.  He's a brave man and I won't fire on him."
     He paused a moment and then added, like a good artillerist:  "Wait until the battery comes and we'll fire at that!"

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

General Isaac Stevens

For as long as men such as Isaac Stevens answer the call to defend our Republic, we shall live on as a nation of free people.


Union General Isaac Stevens seated on a porch in March of 1862 near Beaufort, South Carolina.  During the Battle of Chantilly, fought on September 1, 1862 to cover Pope's retreat after the disaster of 2nd Bull Run, Stevens rallied his men by picking up the fallen regimental colors of his old regiment and shouting "Hightlanders, my Highlanders, follow your General!"  Charging with his troops while carrying the banner of Saint Andrew's Cross, he was struck in the temple by a bullet and died instantly.  General Stevens was held in such high regard, that before his untimely death, there was speculation that he would soon be elevated to command the Army of the Potomac.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ethan's Peach Tree

     Amid the massed foliage, the sounds of battle were muffled, seemed curiously distant, but smoke had drifted to this part of the field.  Colonel Dexter crouched behind a tree, about at the middle of his line, and peered through the smoke and deep shadows.  It wasn't long before he could hear the snapping of branches under appproaching feet, the crackling of leaves, the scraping of clinging brush, the swish of branches pushed back, then let go.  Now he could see men in gray, like ghosts coming through a smoking inferno, a solid line of wary and dangerous men.  When they were only thirty yards away, Dexter stood up from behind the tree.
     "Stand and fire!" he shouted.
     A solid line of blue seemed to rise up out of the earth and smoke.  Muzzles flashed, illuminating the sunless gloom to catch for an instant the expressions of shock and fear on the faces of the Confederates.  The impact of the point-blank volley staggered the Rebel line...

From Ethan's Peach Tree.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was a fiery abolitionist, a minister, and a celebrated speaker.  Mark Twain went to see Beecher preach and described him as "sawing his arms in the air, howling sarcasams this way and that, discharging rockets of poetry, and exploding mines of eloquence."  While Beecher was on a speaking tour in England to argue against the Southern cause, a man in a London audience confronted him.
    The Londoner asked, "If your cause is so righteous with your great Northern strength, why can't you put down the rebellion?"
     Beecher answered, "Because we are fighting Americans and not Englishmen."

Photo from the Brady-Handy Collection, Library of Congress.  Published between 1855 & 1865.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

After the sun went down, and the fighting ended for the day, exhausted soldiers would hear appalling sounds coming from the battlefield as they tried to sleep.  Moans and cries of the wounded frightening to hear, frightening because it was unthinkable to believe such sounds could be made by a human.  These sounds were far more than mere shouts for help and calls for water.  But soldiers wrote in their diaries that a no less harrowing sound heard coming from the battlefield at night was a low hum.  This hum was made by wounded men holding back the sound of their suffering by keeping their mouths tightly shut, and by wounded men too weak to give greater sound to their agony.


Federal dead after the first day of Gettysburg.  Photographer, Timothy O'Sullivan, 1840-1882.  Library of Congress.