Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Man Knows A Man

I will try in the new year to do more entries here.  In fact I have a backlog of good materials, I just need to find the time to publish.   Maybe less Facebook time?

I got a chance to take grandson Blake to the excellent Wisconsin Veterans Museum back in the fall.  I thought I would put up a couple of pictures and thoughts from that trip.  It is always great to see Keith Rocco's work in person and the Exhibit on the War of the Rebellion was particularly good.

To start with I found this Harper's Weekly newspaper cartoon from April 22, 1865 in one of the exhibits.

"Give me your hand, Comrade! We have each lost a Leg for the good cause; but, thank God, we never lost HEART."

Kudos to the exhibit organizers for putting this item there.    I think it captures a sense of equality among the races at the end of the war, likely not for all, but I have to think for many.  I have noticed in a number of GAR photos (one from here in Glen Ellyn) after the war that black veterans are included in the group photos.  I am beginning to think that much like Jim Crow laws from the 1890's, that race relations may have improved for a time after the war and then turned sour in the turbulence of the 1890's and the great influx of immigration.  

I have a feeling my ancestor who fought in the 8th Illinois Cavalry, an abolitionist regiment, would have approved of this cartoon.

The photo above was with the cartoon but not captioned.  It appears to be a USCT regiment drawn up in column of companies.  I wish I could look at the original more closely, I am sure it would provide some excellent details.  They are at parade rest, appear to have bummer caps and short jackets and blanket rolls (bayonets are not on.)

Here is a frontal view of the Iron Brigade in the corn field.  This would be a better shot with a better camera.

Of course the museum has a lot of awesome Iron Brigade items.  Below are a couple:

This is the hat and the flag carrier belt for Philander B. Wright, Co. C, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry.  In the charge from McPherson Ridge on July 1, 1863, 2 bullets pierced the hat, another bullet splintered the flagstaff and a final bullet slammed into his leg knocking him to the ground.  By the time the fight was over he had wounds to his head, arms and legs.  He recovered after a long recovery period.  Note the Red Circle First Corps badge, the Co. C and the light blue hat cord.  The carrier belt is very simple.

This is the sapling replacement flagstaff for the 7th Wisconsin used on July 1, 1863 after the original was shattered by canister.  During the intense battle, Sergeant Jefferson Coates held his company together in defense of the Color Guard until his men were attacked from the flank and a minie ball shot through both his eyes.  Despite being blinded, Coates continued to load muskets for his comrades and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his "unsurpassed courage in battle.''  Gives me goose bumps looking at that.

A couple of unusual items were also on display.  An exhibit on naval items included a great looking officer uniform and a captured Rebel ship flag.

Looks like the flag was taken from a rebel steamer the day Savannah Georgia fell to Sherman's troops.  An interesting design.

Blake enjoyed the museum and it was well worth the trip.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Preservation Gains at Vicksburg

Sometimes the improvements in battlefield preservation are small changes to the way the preserved space is taken care of such that we can much better understand what happened there.  Our imaginations don't have to work so hard when the ground is closer to what it was at the time, we appreciate much better what the participants had to overcome, and we are humbled.

Such has been the change at Vicksburg with some very modest removal of trees.  Approximately 90 acres in three key military engagements sites were restored to their battlefield appearance through the funding of the Freinds of the Vicksburg National Military Park.  While there is no desire to take the battlefield back to the blasted and barren landscape at the time of the battle, it makes sense to help visitors come away with an accurate picture of the historical event.

Here is an aerial photo of the impact on one of the key action areas at Vicksburg.  You can see the modest amount of trees removed and the deep gullies that separate the two forces lines.  This is right in front of the Illinois monument along the Old Jackson Road.

Here is the impact - an impossible view before the tree removal.  The Civil War Trust troops move from the Union line on the right and begin the challenging walk to  the top of the Confederate works.  All the markers showing the furthest progress of the Union attackers makes more sense when you can come up to them from the direction of the attack.

Here are views of the Union artillery positions and the change.

Here is the view looking back from the formerly forested area back towards Battery DeGolyer.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Star of the West

I did not expect to run into naval history in the middle of Mississippi on a visit to Fort Pemberton during a recent trip to Vicksburg.  I had to take a picture of the flag of the Star of the West.  I was told that the actual flag is much larger, but was reduced (folded?) for the display.

Yes, the same ship that was turned back at Fort Sumter and captured by Van Dorn in Texas ended up being sunk in the river in front of Fort Pemberton to stop the Union Navy from proceeding to the Yazoo.

I also found some excellent pictures of Fort Pemberton. (There are also many good links on this page.)

The flag is on display in a cool local museum - The Museum of the Mississippi Delta.

They have a nice model of the Fort Pemberton in the museum too.  You can see the Star of the West before it is sunk to block the river at the top portion of the photo on the river.

Of course, the whole reason for the need for this defensive activity was the Brown Water Navy and the decisive Eads ironclads.   What a joy to be able to see the Cairo again and get this photo with the man who found and raised it - Ed Bearss.

This is all inspiration for some naval gaming and just in time for 2 new ACW naval games from GMT.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Owen Parry - Call Each River Jordan

Just finished the third novel by Owen Parry, Call Each River Jordan.  These are Civil War novels of Historical Suspense that are very good indeed.  The stories are good, but the historical details are excellent and the characters a lot of fun.  All different types from the immigration melting pot are represented in the stories.  The main character is a Welshman who spent his youth in the British Army becoming a very proficient soldier (A sergeant's sergeant, think of a diminutive version of the Irish sergeant from Glory.)  This volume takes Major Abel Jones off to Mississippi and behind enemy lines to investigate a massacre of innocents.  He meets Grant, Sherman, Beauregard, and fights at Shiloh along the way.  The variety of religious beliefs, occupations, and backgrounds that are covered is astounding.  Our Major Jones even starts to become a horseman.  But let that abide.  Highly recommended.

Brandy Station - June 9, 1863 - 150th Anniversary

I thought it would make sense to start a Civil War blog.  If nothing else I can pull things together from the web in one place.  I couldn't think of a better date than following the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Brandy Station.

My ancestor, George C. Hupp was wounded at Brandy Station (also known as Beverly Ford.)   He was a Sergeant in K Company 8th Illinois Cavalry.  The medical records show that he was hit by shell fragments that broke his lower right back and killed his horse.  Since he didn't get married until after the war, we Hupps are fortunate that he survived the wound and the war.

Since Brandy Station was the first battle of the Gettysburg campaign, George missed being with the 8th when Marcellus Jones of the 8th Illinois fired the first shot at Gettysburg on July 1.  George was in a hospital in Baltimore recovering at the time.

Below is a photo of George Hupp.  You can make out the sergeant stripes and coat piping as the dark lines in the black and white of the photo.