Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Grand Army of the Republic in North Carolina

It is sometimes frustrating – here I have all of these books and articles, and all of these online sources, and I cannot find the answers that I want. I guess that is why I write.

If you follow me on facebook, you know that in the past few weeks that I’ve been attempting to research the role, or presence, of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in North Carolina.

General information about the GAR is easy to come by. The organization was formed in 1866 in Illinois . By 1890, there were 409,000 members nationally. On the local level, the GAR established Posts, just like the Camps and Chapters of the United Confederate Veterans or the United Daughters of the Confederacy. You can learn a little more about the GAR here.

Overall, I have found eighteen GAR camps in North Carolina. They are:

Sedwick Post - Raleigh, NC

Jim Barlow Post - White Rock, NC

J. C. Abott Post - Wilmington, NC

Fletcher Post - Elizabeth City, NC

Beecher Post - New Bern, NC

Flusser Post - Washington, NC

Philip Sheridan Post - Hendersonville, NC

G. W. Gehagan Post - Marshall, NC

General Meade Post - Raleigh, NC

Hartranft Post - Charlotte, NC

Harrell Post - Edenton, NC

James Lake Post - Bryson City, NC

James J. McLane Post – Dwight, NC

General Terry Post – Plymouth, NC

W. P. Story Post – Murphy, NC

T. A. Lyons Post – New Bern, NC

Gen. Reynolds Post – Winton, NC

James G. Blaine Post Windsor, NC

I have been able to dig out some information about the North Carolina GAR. On May 29, 1869, the Sedgwick Post No. 2, Grand Army of the Republic, Department of North Carolina, decorated the graves of Union soldiers in the new National Cemetery in Raleigh.

Most of my information (so far) is related to the Post in Charlotte. It seems that when the Confederate Veteran organization in Charlotte held its Confederate Memorial Day observance on May 10, they usually invited the Hartranft Post to participate. And usually, the Hartranft Post lined up behind the Confederate Veterans as they paraded through the streets of Charlotte, toward Elmwood Cemetery. Once at the cemetery, the members of the GAR helped the Confederate Veterans decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers. In contrast, the Hartranft Post, every Federal Memorial Day, went to the National Cemetery in Salisbury to decorate the graves, and I could never find reference to their inviting any of the local Confederate Veteran groups to participate.

I have not really explored the other GAR Post in depth, but I do not believe that I will find many differences.

That leads me to these unanswered questions: when was the first GAR Post in North Carolina organized? How long did they continue to function? How many members did the North Carolina GAR have? If you have suggestions of where to look, I would appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Big Announcement

Seventeen Hundred: that is how many emails that I estimate I have received in the past four years since I started working on the book on the 58th North Carolina Troops. For the past three days, I have been working on sending an email to each of the persons sending me one of the seventeen hundred emails, telling these folks that they can preorder the book. Dozens have responded. Needless to say, I’ve been a little on the busy side.

So, I guess it is time to tell the rest of you: the book on the 58th North Carolina will be out in a couple of weeks, and I am taking orders for signed copies. Here is the announcement that I have been sending to all of those folks:

Greetings! I hope this finds you well on the first week of fall 2010. A while back, I sent out an email to which you graciously responded. I was looking for information for a book that I was working on, a history of the 58th North Carolina Troops. I finished that book late last year, and I am happy to announce that it will be released in two weeks.

The 58th North Carolina Troops was a Confederate regiment made up of men from the mountain counties of North Carolina, primarily Ashe, Watauga, Mitchell, Yancey, Caldwell, McDowell, and Avery (created in 1911) counties. The regiment, the largest to come from North Carolina, contained over 2,000 men, and fought in battles like Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Dalton, Resaca, Kolb’s Farm, the battles for Atlanta, Jonesboro, and Bentonville. The 58th North Carolina was surrendered at the Bennett Place in Durham in April 1865. All told, the regiment lost 355 men during its three years of service.

Like my history of the 37th North Carolina Troops, the history of the 58th North Carolina is based upon letters, diaries, battle reports, and post-war reminisces composed by men who served in the regiment. It is their story. In chronicling their experiences, I consulted modern battlefield studies, and even visited each of the places where they fought. The book, 259 pages in length, contains maps, photographs, rosters, and information on where they fought, where they camped, even what they ate.

As mentioned in my emails to you, I am having a pre-release sale. The paperback book retails for $38 from the publisher. For the next two weeks, I am going to take pre-orders for signed copies for $32 (shipping included). There are two ways to take part. You can visit my web page and order from there ( , or I will accept checks or money orders sent to: Michael C. Hardy, PO Box 393, Crossnore, NC 28616. To help me out, please include in your correspondence to whom you would like the book shipped and/or signed. Back several years ago, I offered a similar deal for the history of the 37th North Carolina Troops, and I shipped about 150 books in three days.

The book will also be available from other vendors, or you can order it from your local book store.

I will be traveling around the state, doing programs and book signings for various groups. If you would like me to come and speak to your historical society, SCV Camp, or UDC Chapter, drop me a line, and we will see what we can set up.

Well, there you have it. The long-awaited release of The Fifty-eighth North Carolina Troops: Tar Heels in the Army of Tennessee (McFarland 2010).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bentonville Battlefield’s Oct. 2 Program Shows Wartime Homefront Sacrifices

FOUR OAKS — The smells of sweet potato coffee will greet visitors as Bentonville Battlefield welcomes fall with a unique program, “Life on the Homefront: Substitutions and Sacrifice,” on Saturday Oct. 2, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. During the free event, civilian re-enactors will demonstrate open-hearth cooking, substituting uncommon foods that were used because of shortages during the Civil War.

A variety of substitutes such as mock apple pie were commonly found on wartime dinner tables as ladies did their best to supply food for their families. Other demonstrations include natural dyeing, sewing, knitting, and candle making. Discussions of the hardships endured by average Southern women also will be presented throughout the day.

“Children’s activities include candle dipping and Civil War period toys and games,” says Megan Maxwell, programs coordinator. “This is a great way for families to spend a Saturday! Take a walk down our trail to some original Union trenches or study the exhibits in our Visitor Center ,” she says.

The circa 1855 Harper House, which served as a field hospital during the Battle of Bentonville, will be open all day.

Bentonville Battlefield is located at 5466 Harper House Road , Four Oaks, NC 27524. It is three miles north of Newton Grove on S.R. 1008, about one hour from Raleigh and about 45 minutes from Fayetteville . For more info rmation, visit or call (910) 594-0789.

Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina ’s social, cultural and economic future. For more info rmation, visit

Friday, September 24, 2010

War-time Charlotte Rail Roads.

In the last blog, we mentioned railroads. Charlotte was served by three different lines during the war, even though saying it that way is a little misleading.

Completed in 1852, the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad ran south out of the city, and into Columbia South Carolina. According to one local historian, this was the line that most people in the area used to ship goods out of the county and into the port of Charleston. The second line, The North Carolina Railroad, ran north, connecting with Salisbury, High Point, Greensboro, and then east, through Durham and Raleigh. At some point - Goldsboro I think, the line became the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad.

A third line ran out of Charlotte towards the west, into Lincoln County. This was a part of the large line, the Wilmington, Carolina, and Rutherford Rail Road, but the eastern link (see below) was not finished.

A fourth line, entitled the Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherford Rail Road was stretching from Wilmington towards the city, but was not much further than Richmond County in the 1860s.

So there are Charlotte’s rail links during the war. Most of these links survived unharmed until the final days (literally) of the war.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Hospitals in Charlotte...

Today, we are going to continue to examine the city of Charlotte, and Mecklenburg County, during the War, by looking at the Confederate hospital in the city. Confederate hospitals were established in many of the major cities of the state, and along smaller towns that had rail access.

According to Kratt’s Charlotte, Spirit of the South, in 1862, Charlotte’s location on three rail lines resulted in Wayside Hospital, for the care of the sick and wounded soldiers going home and returning to the army. By 1863, extensive hospital buildings for several hundred patients were built by the Confederate government on the fairgrounds, a mile from town. By 1865, wounded soldiers in Raleigh and other cities threatened by Sherman were moved to Charlotte… The large school building vacated by the North Carolina Military Institute was used by Confederate officials as a medical laboratory. Late in the war, it also became a hospital, with Miss Maggie Graham as head nurse.” (64)

It appears that there were many different facilities within Charlotte that were used as hospitals at different times throughout the war. In 1896, Miss Lily W. Long wrote an article for the Charlotte Observer, leaving us with these descriptions:

The first Hospital in Charlotte was established by the ladies in a large building used as the washhouse for the military institute, now the graded school. This building has since been removed. Here all arrangements were made for the care of passing soldiers. Every day two members of the hospital association went there with supplies of all necessary articles and gave their time and strengths to nursing and caring for our men. After a while the Confederate government took charge of the Wayside hospital, placed it under the care of the Medical department and used buildings of the Carolina Fair Association on what is now Middle Street, between Morehead and the railroad crossing, south….

The Charlotte women had little to do with the hospital work till near the close of the war when the tide of the battle surged into North Carolina. Many sick from Beauregard’s and Johnston’s commands and many from Averasboro were brought to Charlotte. The line of stores now occupied by E. M. Andrews and a old storehouse on the opposite side of Trade street called the Old Red House were hastily prepared for hospitals and again the women bravely took up the duty that came to hand and did everything that could be done for these poor fellows.

Based upon this information, there was a hospital in the washhouse on the grounds of the North Carolina Military Institute (was this the Wayside Hospital?); one located in the buildings on the fairgrounds; and then, at the close of the war, two hospitals located on Trade Street. The Wayside Hospital was Wayside Hospital No. 6, and the main Confederate Hospital was General Hospital No. 11. At the end of the war, according to Daniel Tompkin’s History of Mecklenburg County, Dr. J. W. Ashby and Chaplain F. M. Kennedy (of the 28th NCT?) were in charge of the hospital facility.

This is not a lot of information on the hospital facilities in Charlotte. Maybe time and diligence in searching will produce more intel.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A look around the Old North State

There is much going on around our fair state – I hope to see you at one of these events! Personally, I’ll be signing books at the Orchard at Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Saturday, and attending the reenactment at Allison’s Woods on Sunday.

Article on Lt. Frederick Dick of the 44th NCT, who moved to Nebraska after the war can be found here.  However, the article states that Dick was captured South Anna Bridge in July 1863. According to the Troop books, he was captured on June 26, 1863.

According to this article from the Daytona Beach News Journal, North Carolina only has 10 real daughters left. Check it out here.

Information about a series of Civil War Round Tables in Southport can be found here. I wish this was closer.

A living history in Jefferson (Ashe County) with our friends in the 26th NCT is coming up soon. Learn more here.

A very interesting (and short) article about the possible location of Confederate dead at New Bern can be found here.

Some information about Fort Hamby, a part of our post-war history, can be found here. Fort Hamby was in Wilkes County.

There is a exhibit of some war-time letters at Alamance Community College, but I could not quite figure out who Kerr was. Check it out here.

There is apparently a living history at the Lawndale Museum in Cleveland Couty this weekend. You can learn more here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Passing pf Professor Harsh

So sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Joseph L. Harsh this morning. Anytime that I have ever written about the ANV (like the 37th NCT and Hanover), I have found his work on the 1862 Maryland Campaign indispensable. He will be missed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mecklenburg County

In the county studies that I have written in the past, I’ve shied away from the large cities and their respective counties in the state. I just struggled with a way to both find the information that I wanted to include, and to find ways to write that information. I think I have figured it out. We are going to look at Mecklenburg County today, and probably for the rest of the week in a series of related posts.

Mecklenburg County was created in 1762 and named for the home of King George III’s wife, Charlotte Sophia’s home – Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The county seat, originally called Charlotte Town, was incorporated in 1768. Charlotte earned the name “The Hornet’s Nest” during the American Revolution because of the citizens’ patriotic fervor. It was also the site of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a document that was supposedly signed a year before the far more well-known Declaration of Independence.

In 1860, there were 17,374 people who lived in Mecklenburg County, including 6,541 slaves and 290 free persons of color. Today, Mecklenburg is the most populous county in North Carolina. In 1860, Buncombe, Granville, Guilford, Halifax, New Hanover, and Wake Counties were larger. In the 1860 presidential election, eligible voters cast 1,101 votes for Breckenridge, 826 votes for Bell, and 135 for Douglas.

During the February 1861 call for a convention, eligible voters cast 1,448 votes in favor of calling the convention, and 252 against. They were allowed two candidates for the convention: William Johnson and James W. Osborne. Johnson was born in present-day Gaston County in 1817. He was a graduate of UNC (1840) and then studied law. He settled in Charlotte soon thereafter. In 1856 Johnston was a railroad president. Johnson resigned his seat in the convention when appointed Commissary General by Governor Ellis. Osborne was born in Salisbury in 1811, and graduated from UNC in 1830. He also studied law and settled in Charlotte. In 1859 Governor Ellis appointed Osborne to a judgeship, and the legislature later approved the governor’s actions. Both Johnston and Osborne died in 1896.

Numerous companies came from Mecklenburg County and joined the Confederate cause. They include Company K, 1st North Carolina Cavalry; Company E, 4th North Carolina Cavalry; Company F, 5th North Carolina Cavalry; Company B, 2nd North Carolina Junior Reserves; Company C, 1st North Carolina Artillery; Companies B and C, 1st North Carolina Volunteers; Company A, 6th North Carolina State Troops; Company D, 7th North Carolina State Troops; Companies A, E, and H, 11th North Carolina State Troops; Company B, 13th North Carolina Troops; Company K, 30th North Carolina Troops; Company G, 34th North Carolina Troops; Company H, 35th North Carolina Troops; Companies C and I, 37th North Carolina Troops; Company K, 42nd North Carolina Troops; Company B, 43rd North Carolina Troops; Company F, 49th North Carolina Troops; Company B, 53rd North Carolina Troops; and, Company K, 56th North Carolina Troops. After the war, Dr. John B. Alexander, himself a former member of the 37th North Carolina Troops, believed that 2,713 men from Mecklenburg County served in the Confederate army.

There are numerous important people (to the Confederacy) who lived in Charlotte at the time of the war. Included in this list is Daniel Harvey Hill, who was teaching at the North Carolina Military Institute at the start of the war, along with Brig. Gen. James H. Lane and Col. Charles C. Lee.

There are numerous issues we could discuss about Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and its role during the war. I would argue that Charlotte and Mecklenburg County was the second most important area of North Carolina during the war (behind Wilmington and New Hanover County). Charlotte was the site of the North Carolina Military Institute, which provided numerous officers to the Confederate army. (Check out a post about the school here.) Also located in Charlotte was the Confederate Naval Ordnance Works, a hospital, the Confederate Acid Works, a Confederate gunpowder manufacturing facility in the Moore’s Chapel/Tuckaseegee Ford area, and a prison camp – Camp Exchange. The area was the site of the last cabinet meeting of the Confederate government in late April 1865. It was in Charlotte that Jefferson Davis heard of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Charlotte was later garrisoned by Federal soldiers after the war. We’ll talk more about these in the days to come.

After the war was over, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County was home to a large United Confederate Veterans camp, the Stonewall Jackson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the James H. Lane Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In 1929, North Carolina held its only National Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans in Charlotte. You can learn more about that here and here. There are numerous Confederate markers and monuments around the county. Mecklenburg County is also the final resting place of D. H. Hill (in Davidson), Brig. Gen. Rufus Barringer and Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Drayton (in Charlotte).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Carolina Mountains Literary Festival

Today is day two of the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival. I’ll be speaking on a panel at 9:00 am with other Arcadia authors, and then I’ll be speaking at 1:30 pm on the subject of the importance of and how to preserve your community’s history. Drop by and say hi if you are around!

Friday, September 10, 2010

"you don’t really know as much as you think you do"

Wait – my third blog post in a row. Wow! After some reflection over the past couple of days, I’ve come up with this question: Should re-enactors write history books? I don’t really have a simple answer to this question, though I can speak from experience. However, the short answer is this: you may not know as much about the war as you think even if you look the part.

I grew up re-enacting. I went to my first event in 1982. I was ten years old. It took almost a year for me to go to my second event in October 1983. Re-enacting in those days was not really anything like it is today. However, my folks saw it as a way for my family to do something together. So, through the 1980s, we went to three or four events a year. The capstone of this time was the 125th Anniversary of Gettysburg in 1988. I got serious about re-enacting in the early 1990s. By the time I graduated high school in the 1991 and started college, I was attending 30 plus events a year. In 1989, I was a first sergeant and in 1991, captain of a company. Not long after getting married in 1995, I was promoted to colonel of a infantry battalion. By the late 1990s, burnout was setting in, and I had also discovered living histories. In 2000-2001, I was still doing more than 30 events a year, but the focus had shifted to more living histories. Today, I still “re-enact,” but they are primarily living history events, and very few re-enactments.

In my case, re-enacting taught me a great deal about the common life of a soldier, how to march, how to load and fire. However, in the early days, I did not confine myself into one role. In that first decade, I served as a musician, a medical steward, and an artilleryman. As I grew older and advanced in ranks, I learned more, and then started teaching other re-enactors, and then started to work with school groups. I knew the life of a common soldier inside out and backwards – The Life and Johnny Reb and The Life of Billy Yank were my constant companions. Once I attained the rank of colonel, I had new things to learn, like how to move an infantry battalion of 250-450 men around a field – which at times can be quite challenging. But this also brought about an understanding of how the different officers in a regiment functioned. Once I started doing putting together regimental-size living histories, I discovered how the provost marshal’s department worked, what the paymaster did, and how to conduct regimental courts martial.

So, in some aspects, reenacting prepared me for some of the aspects of doing what I do.

In 1996, I started working on my first book – that history of the 37th North Carolina Troops. I thought I knew a lot about the war. Boy, was I wrong. Nothing I had done had prepared me to chronicle the lives of a regiment that was one of the largest out of the state of North Carolina, had fought in 35-plus battles and skirmishes, and had lost more men than any other regiment from the Tar Heel state. It took me six years to put this book together. All of the things I had learned to run my battalion and put on great living histories was just scratching the surface of the day-to-day lives of men who were in real regiments. After having written more than a dozen books, including two regimental histories, I can say this: I’m still learning.

So, can re-enactors write good regimental histories? Yes. Just remember that you don’t really know as much as you think you do.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

North Carolina, the War, and POD publishers

One good thing about the advent of POD publishers is that more obscure works that don’t interest large publishers can get into the hands of readers. One bad thing is that nobody knows that they are there.

Today, I was looking around Amazon, and I came up with a couple – anyone ever heard of these?

North Carolina Civil War Regiments: North Carolina Union Civil War Regiments, Edenton Bell Battery, 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry

Ok, the title alone does not make any sense and there is no author. The description is: “Chapters: North Carolina Union Civil War Regiments, Edenton Bell Battery, 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, List of North Carolina Civil War Confederate Units, 50th North Carolina Regiment, 26th North Carolina Regiment, 46th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, List of North Carolina Union Civil War Regiments. Excerpt: Edenton Bell Battery refers to an artillery unit from North Carolina that served for the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War, the four named guns the unit served throughout the war, and to an American Civil War reenactment group based in Edenton, North Carolina inspired by the original unit. The Edenton Bell Battery, 3rd Battalion North Carolina Light Artillery Company B, were originally recruited in March 1862 as the Albemarle Artillery by Edenton lawyer William Badham, Jr., as most of the men were from North Carolina's Albemarle Sound area. Drilled as artillery at Richmond, Virginia in April and May, 1862, the unit found themselves in danger of being designated an infantry company, because of the scarcity of cannon available to outfit battery companies. A captain was dispatched back to Edenton for help. Early in the war, Confederate leader P.G.T. Beauregard, recognizing the immediate need for large metal sources for artillery pieces, suggested one expedient would be for local communities to donate bells from churches, courthouses, and other institutions. A song, "Melt the Bells," widely reprinted in southern presses, inspired many in Chowan and surrounding counties to donate bells for recasting. After four bells from the Edenton, North Carolina area were offered, the Albemarle Artillery was renamed the Edenton Bell Battery….”

Ok, how about this one: The North Carolina Negro in the Civil War by Dr. Joseph Askew. The product description reads: “The Black man played an important role in the Civil War and was the main work force that brought it to an immediate end once they were allowed to enlist. Firstly, the Civil War was thought of as a war betweem [sic] White men. But the issue of slavery had not been resolved. The Union was the first to free the slaves and then allow them to participate in the Civil War. These brave Black Bad Men of Color fought in every major battle and received medals of honor. History has forgotten these courageous men and in fact has excluded them for the history books. The Black Experience Call acknowledges some of these Black Soldiers who participated in the Civil War.”

Did I read that right? “brave Black Bad Men of Color”? And these “brave “Black Bad Men of Color” fought in every major battle? Hmmm… To quote our pal Delmar from O Brother, Where art Thou?—“That don’t make no sense.”

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Rowan Artillery

This makes the third time that I have started a review of this book. I guess it is time to finish it.

Recently, I took an interest in the Rowan Artillery (Co. D, 1st North Carolina Artillery [10th North Carolina State Troops]). I recently found a great primary source of the roll of the battery at the battle of Gettysburg. This led me to look at the roster of the battery, and to look for other primary sources, which led to a book that was recently released on the subject.

I’ll start off by saying that I really don’t like criticizing someone’s book – having written a few myself, I understand how difficult the process can be. That being said, Men of God, Angels of Death: History of the Rowan Artillery by Jack Travis (2008) needs some help.

The Rowan Artillery might be considered a bedrock artillery unit of the Army of Northern Virginia. The company was organized on May 18, 1858, and was called into service for twelve months on May 3,
1861. Soon thereafter, the battery was reorganized and placed under the command of James Reilly, the
former “keeper” of Fort Johnson. Lacking cannon, the battery was temporarily assigned as infantry to
the 4th NCST. By July 27, 1861, the men were in Manassas Junction, where they received two of the
captured Federal cannons from the late battle. The Rowan Artillery was placed in W. H. C. Whiting’s
Brigade, and wintered near Dumfries, Virginia. The battery was involved in the actions during the
Confederate retreat from Yorktown, and, as a member of Law’s brigade, the Seven Days battles.

Following the battle, Whiting was transferred, and the battery, now in B. W. Frobel’s Artillery Battalion, became a part of Hood’s division. The battery took prominent parts in battles like Second Manassas, South Mountain, and Fredericksburg. The year 1863 found the battery back in North Carolina, where it was engaged in the attack on Washington in April, and the siege of Suffolk. The battery rejoined the ANV in June 1863, and continued with the army to Gettysburg. Other battles followed, including Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor. The battery was then involved in the siege of Petersburg, and then retreated with the remnants of the ANV. Much of the battery was captured during the final days of the war in Virginia.

Travis’s work would have been better had it simply been a biography of battery commanders James
Reilly or John A. Ramsey. Had we just followed their lives, then we would have a good book. But Travis tries to interpose a history of the Rowan Artillery along the way. Travis claims to be a re-enactor and states in the introduction that this book is “written from a re-enactor’s point of view” (10). However, there is a fundamental lack of information on how a piece of artillery or a battery of artillery worked. There is no diagram of the positions of the different gunners, and no description of what jobs those different gunners performed. And hardly anyone on the battery, save Reilly or Ramsey, is ever mentioned. On page 65 is a description of some of the illnesses that plagued the army, like chronic diarrhea and dysentery, yet Travis never actually provides us with any examples of these illnesses among the members of the group. It only took a matter a minutes for me to discover that eighteen men of the Rowan Artillery died of disease during the war. Do you need to mention everyone? No. But a couple of examples like Pvt. William H. Black, who died of typhoid fever on October 10, 1861, or Pvt. Thomas H. Hardister who died of erysipelas on June 21, 1862, might have been nice. The next paragraph on that page deals with soldiers who paid social calls to “fallen doves” and contracted venereal diseases. However, I could not find any reference to any soldiers in the Rowan Artillery contracting such a disease.

There are a couple of places where the information is just in error. Travis writes on page 15 that Henry J. Hunt was teaching artillery tactics to Robert E. Lee at Fort Washita in present-day Oklahoma in 1853. Hunt might have been teaching artillery tactics at Fort Washita, but Robert E. Lee, in 1853, was serving as superintendent at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I could find nothing about him making trips to Oklahoma that year. On page 69, we have that Maj. John B. Barry was in command of the 18th North Carolina Troops when Jackson was shot on the evening of May 2. Well, Col. Thomas J. Purdie was in command of the 18th North Carolina Troops on the evening of May 2. Purdie was killed the following day and Barry then assumed command.

While Men of God, Angels of Death has a bibliography and a index, there are no notes. There is also no roster. Though I believe that you do not need a detailed roster in such a book, at least a list of names with those who died during the war is essential.
Well, there you have it. A book that I would not recommend to anyone. If the author ever attempts to write another book, instead of writing from a re-enactor’s point of view, how about a historian’s point of view?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Upcoming Events

Greetings folks! I hope you are having a great Labor Day! Like most folks, we’ll spend the day working hard here on our side of the mountain. I thought I would share what the rest of my month looks like. I’ll be out talking and signing books at each of these.

September 9 –Ivy Ritchie Camp, SCV, Albemarle, NC

September 11 – Carolina Mountains Literary Festival, Burnsville, NC

September 14 - Lt. F. C. Frazier Camp, SCV, High Point, NC

September 18 – Orchard at Alta Pass, Blue Ridge Parkway

September 25 – Olde Timey Day, Burnsville, NC

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Leventhorpe biography

My march through the literature concerning North Carolina and the War continues. Over the past weekend, I finished D. H. Hill, Jr.’s Confederate Military History of North Carolina. Since it is an older book, and since many of you have probably already read it, I don’t have much in the way of comments. The book is largely a history of North Carolina’s regiment in the Army of Northern Virginia, with token mentions of the Tar Heel regiments in the Army of Tennessee and the War within the Old North State itself.

I next picked up J. Timothy Cole and Bradley R. Foley’s biography of Collette Leventhorpe. I have written a fair amount about Leventhorpe as well, with biographical articles that have appeared in North and South and Gettysburg Magazine.

Leventhorpe was a British-born, British army-trained Confederate officer. He migrated to the state in the 1840s, and settled in western North Carolina. Leventhorpe was first colonel of the 34th North Carolina Troops, and then later colonel of the 11th North Carolina Troops – the Bethel Regiment. Leventhorpe was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg and then captured on his return after the battle. He resigned from the 11th North Carolina and become a brigade-general of Home Guard forces in the eastern portions of North Carolina. In the last weeks of the war, Leventhorpe was appointed a Confederate brigadier general and assigned command of Clingman’s brigade. Leventhorpe declined the promotion. After the war, he moved frequently between Rutherford, Caldwell, and Watauga Counties, New York, and Great Britain. Leventhorpe passed in 1889 and is buried in Caldwell County.

Cole and Bradley have done a really good job of combing through numerous sources, both on this side of the Atlantic, and on the British side. Their work should be commended. They have produced a well-documented biographical piece that will be a benefit for future generations. I do not much care for the way they introduce new characters by telling you what happened to them later on. Take for instance when Henry King Burgwyn is introduced in the story: “Col.Burgwyn, the commander of the 26th NC, would later fall at the head of his regiment on the first day of Gettysburg.” (92) Well, Burgwyn first appears in the story in December 1862. Why not let the story evolve instead of having to jump back and forth? Maybe this is just a pet peeve.

A little more serious is the treatment of the Home Guard. Yes, Leventhopre was appointed by Governor Vance a brigadier general in August 1863 and assigned to command home guard forces in the central and then eastern portions of North Carolina. However, in no place in the text is it mentioned that Leventhorpe was actually the second home guard brigadier general. The first was John W. McElroy, who was appointed in July 1863, and assigned command of the 1st Brigade of North Carolina Home Guard. The 1st Brigade was made of up battalions from the western portions of the state. Not acknowledging that there was another home guard brigade, and another Home Guard brigadier general, leads to a few moments of confusion later on in the text. For example, in February 1865, Leventhorpe and the home guard were ordered to report to Raleigh and to Governor Vance. Was this both brigades of Home Guard, or just Leventhorpe’s brigade? (page 158)

Overall, this is a great book and I encourage you to get a copy and check it out.

So, what’s next? Hmm, maybe McKinney’s biography on Vance?