March, 2007

Today, media giant Viacom has sued Google for $1 billion in damages for copyright infringement arising from the posting of its copyrighted material on You Tube. Here’s an article on this litigation from CNET:

Viacom sues Google over YouTube clips
By Anne Broache and Greg Sandoval
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: March 13, 2007, 6:35 AM PDT
Last modified: March 13, 2007, 2:14 PM PDT
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update Viacom on Tuesday slapped YouTube and parent company Google with a lawsuit, accusing the wildly popular video-sharing site of “massive intentional copyright infringement” and seeking more than $1 billion in damages.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, contends that nearly 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s entertainment programming have been available on YouTube and that these clips have been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

Viacom, an entertainment giant that owns Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks and a number of cable channels, said it has also asked the court for an injunction to halt the alleged copyright infringement.

“YouTube appropriates the value of creative content on a massive scale for YouTube’s benefit without payment or license,” Viacom said in its complaint. “YouTube’s brazen disregard of the intellectual-property laws fundamentally threatens not just plaintiffs but the economic underpinnings of one of the most important sectors of the United States economy.”

The lawsuit represents a serious escalation in the conflict with YouTube, and it is also the most significant legal challenge over intellectual-property rights to video sharing’s No. 1 site. But some industry observers doubt that this will embolden other entertainment companies to mount their own court challenges.

Google downplayed the legal challenge and extolled the benefits to content creators that it sees in YouTube.

“We have not received the lawsuit but are confident that YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders and believe the courts will agree,” Google said in a statement. “YouTube is great for users and offers real opportunities to rights holders: the opportunity to interact with users; to promote their content to a young and growing audience; and to tap into the online-advertising market. We will certainly not let this suit become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube and its ability to attract more users (and) more traffic, and (to) build a stronger community.”

Google, which acquired YouTube last October for $1.65 billion, recognized the possibility that the video site would one day be forced to wage lengthy court battles. The company has reportedly set aside a sum of money to fund legal costs.

Meanwhile, Google has successfully negotiated licensing deals with many entertainment companies, including Warner Music Group, CBS and most recently, the BBC.

Some advocacy groups suggested that the “fair use” doctrine of copyright law, which allows the noncommercial reproduction of works for purposes like criticism, comment, news reporting and research, should protect YouTube users that post short clips or mainstream-media works.

“Simply (defining material as) ‘unauthorized’ does not make its use illegal,” Gigi Sohn, president of the advocacy group Public Knowledge, said in a statement.

“I don’t think this is the start of a whole series of litigation,” said Edward Naughton, intellectual-property partner at Holland & Knight. “I think this is Viacom and Google in a negotiation that hasn’t gone so smoothly, so it has gone to litigation…Viacom is just really turning up the heat.”

Although legitimate copyright concerns come into play, Viacom’s action is “probably about a large company that would prefer the old status quo, where they had most of the control (over their content distribution), and they didn’t cede it to companies like YouTube and Google,” said Jeffrey Lindgren, an intellectual-property lawyer at Morgan Miller Blair in San Francisco.

“I would expect some (suits from other companies to) follow,” he added, “but I don’t know (that) this is really going to lead to the onslaught that is the end of Google and YouTube.”

Viacom isn’t the only entertainment conglomerate yet to partner with the Google division. Some executives have been very critical of YouTube’s practices, including Jeff Zucker, the CEO of NBC.

An NBC Universal representative declined to comment Tuesday on whether the company has plans for litigation against YouTube similar to that of Viacom. Twentieth Century Fox Film spokesman Chris Alexander, meanwhile, said the Viacom complaint is far more sweeping than any action his company has pursued against the video-sharing site.

Earlier this year, the News Corp. unit subpoenaed YouTube for the identities of two users who had allegedly posted as-yet-unaired episodes of the popular show 24 because it was “interested in protecting full episodes of our series that we have yet to monetize,” he said.

“We take protection of our copyrights very seriously, and we look at them on a case-by-case basis,” Alexander said, but he added that he was unaware of any companywide policy governing clips, as opposed to entire episodes, posted to video-sharing sites.

Viacom last month caused a stir by demanding that YouTube remove 100,000 infringing clips. Some observers shrugged, calling it a negotiating tactic by Viacom and predicted that the two would eventually become partners.

Nonetheless, Viacom says in its complaint that YouTube failed to prevent its users from posting pirated material to the site. San Bruno, Calif.-based YouTube will remove clips that feature unauthorized material only after it receives a takedown notice from the copyright holder, Viacom said.

This, many entertainment executives say, is unfair. YouTube’s policy, which the company says complies with copyright law, forces many of the biggest studios to devote time and money toward policing someone else’s site. Often, no sooner than a company asks YouTube to take down a clip, users post a new version of the same clip.

“YouTube has deliberately chosen not to take reasonable precautions to deter the rampant infringement on its site,” Viacom said in its complaint. “Because YouTube directly profits from the availability of popular infringing works on its site, it has decided to shift the burden entirely onto copyright owners to monitor the YouTube site on a daily or hourly basis to detect infringing videos.

A source inside Viacom said the company would likely have not filed suit, had it not repeatedly found clips that it had already asked to be taken down.

“More and more of the company’s resources are going to this,” the source said. “The company basically is paying for an entire new department to watch YouTube.”

Google lawyers said they are relying on a 1998 law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to shield them from liability. One provision of that statute generally says companies are off the hook if they remove copyrighted content promptly when it is brought to their attention.

Internet services may only benefit from that so-called “safe harbor” if they also meet a four-pronged test. Those conditions include not being “aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent” and not receiving “financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity.”

Viacom in its complaint argues Google and YouTube do not qualify for that relief, but Glenn Brown, an in-house product counsel for the merged companies, said he was confident their actions were on solid legal ground. “We meet those requirements and go above and beyond them in helping content providers identify copyright infringements,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.

YouTube was also expected late last year to release a technology that would automatically weed out copyright content from the site. NBC’s Zucker and others in Hollywood have accused the company of dragging its feet. Viacom said that only when an agreement is reached will YouTube begin safeguarding an entertainment company’s copyright property.

“YouTube has deliberately withheld the application of available copyright protection measures in order to coerce rights holders to grant it licenses on favorable terms,” according to the complaint.

CNET’s Elinor Mills contributed to this report.

Here’s a link to Viacom’s complaint.

This really no different from Google’s persistent infringement of written copyrights, as it uses the same defenses to challenges. It seems that it’s determined to push its agenda irrespective of whether copyright holders object. It’s also quite clear that it’s going to take a HUGE verdict against Google to teach them a lesson.

I say, you go, Viacom. Smack them down.

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We got up early on Sunday morning and drove down to Franklin. We arrived at the Carter House about 9:30, where we met David Fraley, the very accomplished staff historian there. David opened things up early for us, and then took us on a battlefield tour.

I had never seen any of these sites, and I was absolutely flabbergasted by the number of bullet holes and the amount of battle damage to the Carter buildings. David quite correctly pointed out that those five hours of fighting at Franklin were probably THE bloodiest five hours in American history. We saw the damage to the farm office building and to the summer kitchen. David’s telling of the stories of Emerson Opdycke’s men attacking through ankle deep pools of blood and fighting their way through the Carter farm buildings was incredibly compelling and incredibly moving at the same time.

We then went inside the house, and David took us upstairs. Few visitors ever see the upstairs, which is not presently open for tours. He also permitted Susan to take a few pictures inside the house (without the flash), even though they usually don’t allow it. We saw where the blood of the wounded literally ran down the steps like a cascade. He showed us the bed where Tod Carter was born and died, and his brother Moscow’s room. And we went down into the cellar, where 28 civilians rode out the storm while rivulets of blood from wounded poured down on them and hell raged right outside the windows.

From there, we visited the site of the former Pizza Hut, which now boasts a handsome new monument erected by the City of Franklin. That’s my wife Susan on the left, our friends Greg and Karel Lea Biggs, and David Fraley in the hat. The spot where Pat Cleburne fell is right across the street from there, and we saw that spot. The house that occupies that spot will be torn down in a couple of years when the lease expires, and the Carter cotton gin will be reproduced on the spot. I think it’s absolutely amazing that Cleburne made it to within ten feet of the Union before falling to the bullet that claimed his life.

We then went out to Winstead Hill and saw the group of Confederate monuments there. There are monuments to each of the Confederate generals killed as well as a couple of state monuments and one to Nathan Bedford Forrest’s artillery. There is also a 3-D topo map out there that shows the terrain features. Sadly, the entire valley below has been developed, including an ugly new shopping center. Apparently, the developers lied to the city fathers and told them that nothing happened on that ground–it was fought over heavily and turned up a lot of relics when the ground was broken. It’s really sad.

From there, we went to Carnton Plantation. The golf course across the road–which saw fighting since the Confederate right passed right over that ground–was recently purchased by the city, and will now be preserved. We visited the McGavock Confederate Cemetery (which is two acres in size, and is the largest privately-owned Confederate cemetery) and had a good long-distance view of the plantation house where four of the six Confederate generals killed in the battle were laid out on the back porch that you can see in the photograph the next day. Most of the dead in the cemetery were never identified.

The battlefield is very compact, and almost none of it is preserved. It’s a classic example of what happens when city fathers don’t care about the preservation of history; a new library was built on one large open parcel of land right across from the Pizza Hut site, which makes good interpretation largely impossible. It’s really tragic that so much of the battlefield is gone. Folks are finally starting to get the message and trying to promote Civil War tourism, and we saw a number of folks prowling around the McGavock Cemetery.

Sadly, it was now noon, and time to hit the road. I was very happy that I finally got to see this incredibly bloody battlefield after all these years, and I look forward to my next visit. I have to admit that I am a little bit surprised that there are no Union monuments there, particularly considering how lopsided of a Union victory this battle was. There’s not a single Union monument there, which may help to explain why so little of the battlefield has been preserved. The best news is that David Fraley has agreed to a volume on Franklin for Ironclad’s Discovering Civil War America Series, which should be a very valuable tool for battlefield stompers.

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Well, we’re home. I’m exhausted, but it was a great trip. I will post specifics and photographs from this morning’s battlefield tour at Franklin tomorrow, so please be patient.

I made it through the entire winter without so much as a sniffle….until last Thursday. In another sterling example of the truth of Murphy’s Law, I woke up on Thursday realizing that I was coming down with a head cold, and by the time we reached Nashville on Friday, it was full blown, and it was a bad one, even with using Zicam. Traditionally, I never sleep well the first night of a cold, because I can’t breathe. Likewise, I almost never sleep well in beds that I’m not familiar with, such as hotel beds. This made for a deadly combination on Friday night. I’d be surprised if I got more than a couple of hours worth of sleep. I feel crappy and totally worn out as I write this. I’m going to try to get to bed early.

Friday: We dropped off the dogs at the boarding place, came home to trade cars, and off we went. We made it to Nashville in 6:15, including lunch and other stops. We got there at 4:00 local time. Dave Powell had tipped me off to look for the monument of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Brentwood, and I kept a close eye out for it as we headed south on I-65. Sure enough, there it was. The Military Order of the Stars and Bars, an organization made up of male descendants of commissioned Confederate officers, has erected a 35 foot tall monument of a mounted Forrest right alongside the freeway. This thing has to be THE worst Civil War monument ever. Forrest looks like an action figure of some cartoon character. It doesn’t even look like him. To call the thing hideous is being incredibly kind to it. It’s so ugly, in fact, that I didn’t see a reason to endanger us by stopping to try to take a photo of it. I can’t imagine why someone would have paid for this horrific thing to have been erected, but there it is….

We checked into our hotel and then headed out. We stayed in Brentwood, which is a lovely and very affluent suburb of Nashville. The hotel is apparently on the southern edge of the Nashville battlefield. We went and found Traveller’s Rest Plantation, where the conference was to be held, and then, upon a recommendation from old friend Greg Biggs, decided to head down toward Franklin to look for dinner.

It was nearly 80 degrees there when we got there, so we put the top down on the convertible, and off we went. There are absolutely immense McMansions lining the Franklin Pike. I’m told one of the largest belongs to country singer Billy Ray Cyrus of Empty Hollow Head….oops, Achy Breaky Heart….fame. We drove down to Franklin, explored a bit–we found the Carter House–and then had a superb dinner at a local restaurant called Sandy’s Downtown Grille. We headed back up to Brentwood, stopped at the local Border’s store, and then called it a night.

Saturday was conference day. We went up to Traveller’s Rest and spent the day in the conference. There were fifty-one participants in the conference, including a couple of regular readers of this blog. Myers Brown gave a good talk on Joe Wheeler, and then Brian Steel Wills gave a talk on Forrest. Brian is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met–he easily could have been a standup comic instead of a historian. Greg gave a good talk on the June 27, 1863 Battle of Shelbyville (part of Rosecrans’ Tullahoma Campaign) over lunch. Traveller’s Rest was opened for us to tour. The house served as John Bell Hood’s headquarters for two weeks prior to the Battle of Nashville, and it has lots of history. There is an autograph book there that was owned by a resident signed by every Confederate general, and it’s a special thing. This is the first time I’ve seen Bedford Forrest’s signature, as one example.

I struggled through my talk. First, I had little confidence in my presentation, as Union cavalry operations in the Western Theater are definitely not my strong point. I also had a major head full of garbage due to the bad cold, I hadn’t slept, and it was really a challenge just to get through it. I managed to make it through and did okay; I tried to inject some levity, and the crowd seemed to like the presentation. The final segment of the program was a panel discussion, I sold some books, and then we were out of there. Before leaving, Susan and I changed clothes, and I shifted into hockey fan mode, including my Blue Jackets jersey.

We had dinner at Jack’s Famous Barbeque on Broadway (great food; I highly recommend it) and then went to the game. The Preds won 2-1 in a nip and tuck battle. The arena is interesting–it’s very different (and smaller) than our arena here, Nationwide Arena. We’re required to behave ourselves. Before every game, they warn us about not using profanity, etc. This is not the case in Nashville. When the visiting players are introduced one at a time, the crowd yells “SUCKS” in unison after each player’s name is called. Then, when the visiting coach is announced, they yell, “AND HE SUCKS TOO!”. Any time a Predators player gets called for a penalty, the announcer tells who the penalty was on, what the call was, and then says, “The Blue Jackets are on the power play”, and the crowd responds with “AND THEY STILL SUCK!” I thought it was hilarious. This would never, ever fly in Columbus. The owner of the team would stroke out if something like that happened. Also, since it’s Music City in Nashville, it came as no shock when a live rock band played between periods of the game, and they were good. Best of all, they didn’t play country music, which Susan and I both despise. Surprisingly, there were a quite a few Blue Jackets’ fans there, and we were treated politely. I guess we couldn’t hope for much more than that. I just wish the CBJ had won. Ah, well. But for feeling really crappy, it was a nearly perfect day.

This morning, we visited the Franklin battlefield (again, details on this will follow tomorrow), and we headed for home at noon local time. It was 6:15 driving time again, and we got home just in time to go pick up the dogs before the boarding place closed for the night. I’m not sure who’s more tired–the dogs or me. I know that I’m absolutely exhausted. The weather was beautiful today, even if a bit cooler, and we had the top down on the Bug for about half of the day. We did get to take a picture of my all-time favorite roadside sign. Midway through Kentucky, along I-65 northbound, is a sign that says “USED COWS FOR SALE”. It cracks me up every time I see it (and I’ve now seen it four times). Susan will post it tomorrow, once the pictures have been downloaded from the digital camera. She made the comment that she’d only be interested in buying used cows if they’ve already been factory reconditioned. 🙂

Nevertheless, it was a terrific weekend, and it whet my appetite to go back and get a tour of the Nashville and Stones River battlefields. I think we’re going to try to do that this fall.

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7 Mar 2007, by

I’m Ready

I’ve never claimed to be an expert on Western Theater cavalry operations. There are lots of reasons for that. For one thing, there was nobody like Jeb Stuart in the Western Theater until Wade Hampton was promoted and sent south in February 1865. That’s a big part of the reason why the Union horse soldiers there were pretty much the second team and why they were led by either lesser soldiers or rejects from the Army of the Potomac. I’m not much of an admirer of Nathan Bedford Forrest, and don’t think much of him as a soldier. I’ve worked on the Carolinas Campaign at some length, and I’m working on John Hunt Morgan’s Great Indiana and Ohio Raid of 1863, but that pretty much marks my intensive study of cavalry operations in the West.

Thus, I found it pretty remarkable when I was asked to do a major presentation on the Union cavalry in the West for the Nashville conference this weekend. I agreed, but I knew that I was going to have my work cut out for me. I had a lot of educating myself to do in order to get up to speed. I spent Monday night putting together a Power Point presentation of 25 slides of various key players to use to spice things up a bit when I do my talk, and then I spent the last couple of nights getting the outline for my talk together. It’s been a lot of work, but I’m as ready as I will ever be to do this presentation. The problem is that I only have an hour to talk, but I have four years, four armies, and lots of different campaigns to cover. By definition, that means that I have to do an extremely broad overview of things with no detail. However, my lack of intimacy with the topic–unlike cavalry operations in the east–leaves me extremely nervous about things and concerned that I’m going to get something wrong or screw it up.

As I go up to give my talk, I will say Shephard’s Prayer–that’s Alan Shephard’s prayer, which he recited for the first time before his Mercury flight–“Dear God, please don’t let me screw up.” 🙂 And hopefully, I won’t.

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I received the following e-mail from Mark Dunkelman today. Mark is THE authority on the 154th New York Infantry, and someone whose work I admire.

Dear Eric,

A matter has come to my attention that is of importance to the Civil War community. I hope you’ll see fit to spread the news via your blog.

Since 2000, folks have had two options in ordering Civil War pension files from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). They could order a “Pension Documents Packet” consisting of eight documents containing genealogical information for a fee of $14.75. Or they could order the “Full Pension Application File” for $37.

By far, most people chose the Full Pension Application File option. In FY 2006, NARA completed 7,700 orders for full files, compared to approximately 2,600 orders for the packet.

Now NARA is proposing fee increases for reproductions of all sorts of records, including Civil War pension files. The cost of a Pension Documents Packet will rise to $25. The cost of a Full Pension Application File will rise to a whopping $125!

The $37 fee for a complete pension file was determined by NARA’s estimate that the average page count per Civil War pension file was 40 to 50 pages. Now, a NARA study has found that files can include “up to 200 pages or more.” Hence the gigantic fee increase.

Pension files can indeed run to 200 or more pages. But many do not. My great-grandfather’s complete file, for example, includes 29 pages. A flat fee of $125 for a complete file will be grossly unfair to many people ordering their ancestors’ pension records. Because of the wide range of page counts in Civil War pension files, the fairest fees would be per-page and not fixed.

For the complete proposal in the Federal Register, see:

Note that NARA has invited comments on the proposal, which must be received by April 27, 2007. I hope the Civil War community will raise a loud voice in protest of this unfair fee increase.

I hope you’ll see fit to blog on this subject, Eric. Thanks for your consideration.

Yours truly,

Mark Dunkelman

This sort of thing concerns me a great deal. I spend enough money on my research. Making it astronomically expensive to get pension records will be a REAL disincentive to tackle major projects.

My letter goes out tomorrow.

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This coming Saturday, March 10, is not only the 142nd anniversary of the Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads, it’s also the day of the Third Annual Nashville Civil War Conference. The conference, which focuses on Western Theater cavalry operations, will be held at Traveller’s Rest Plantation. I will be speaking on Union cavalry operations. Since it’s such a broad topic, I’m going to focus more on personalities and give a broad overview of the operations.

Quite coincidentally, that same night, March 10, the Columbus Blue Jackets play the Nashville Predators at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Music Town.

So, I will get to spend the day talking about my favorite subject, and then after the conference ends, we will be heading to the hockey game. And then on Sunday, I get to do some battlefield stomping before coming home.

It’s the perfect convergence of two of my very favorite things. Life is good. 🙂

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Having grown up in the Philadelphia suburbs in the 1970’s, we were all hockey crazy. When I was 13 years old in the spring of 1974, the Flyers won their first of two consecutive Stanley Cup championships, and we were ALL hockey crazy. I’ve retained my love of hockey for my whole life, and when it was announced we were going to get our own NHL expansion team here in Columbus, I was absolutely thrilled. I share a set of season tickets with one of my former law partners, and I remain a loyal Flyers fan, too.

Our team is called the Blue Jackets, named to honor Ohio’s contributions to the Union victory in the Civil War. It’s a nice thing, but our team has more European players than anything else, and I doubt any of them have a clue what it means.

This past fall, the head coach was fired, a new coach was hired. His name is Ken Hitchcock, and he had just been fired by my beloved Flyers. I was aware that Hitchcock has a serious interest in the Civil War, so I sent copies of a couple of my books down to the team offices for him just to welcome him to town. Until today, though, I didn’t know just how deep his interest runs. The following article appeared in today’s issue of the Columbus Dispatch:

Civil War not ancient history to Hitchcock
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Michael Arace
Ken Hitchcock became a Blue Jacket in 1992, the year he visited Gettysburg for the first time. He took a tour and, when it was done, a few re-enactors emerged in period dress to stage a play of sorts. They used the tourists as troops in the scene. It was an epiphany.

Hitchcock, a hockey coach from Edmonton, Alberta, became fascinated with the American Civil War.

“I got all fired up thinking that this leadership and followship issue is really interesting,” Hitchcock said in a recent interview in his office in Nationwide Arena.

“There’s a reason soldiers sewed their names in their coats before going into battle,” he said. “It’s because they knew they weren’t going to survive. Why go into battle? I started to buy books and movies. Then, not long after I got into a regiment, I got into re-enactments all over the United States. I attended roundtable discussions. … I became curious about learning about the value of leadership and followship — with followship being as important as leadership.”

On Friday night, Hitchcock will lead the Blue Jackets against his former team, the Dallas Stars, in the American Airlines Center. It will be his 802 nd game behind an NHL bench. He’s 427-269-105 with one Stanley Cup championship, with the Stars in 1999, and six division titles. He trudges on.

Hitchcock is 19-20-5 since he was named Jackets coach Nov. 22. His brand of leadership can be unyielding. In the past month, he has suspended forward Nikolai Zherdev, made a healthy scratch of veteran defenseman Bryan Berard and relegated a $2.5 million winger, Anson Carter, to the fourth line. (Carter was subsequently traded to Carolina.) At the same time, younger players such as Zherdev, Dan Fritsche, Alexander Svitov and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen have taken their game to a higher level that couldn’t have been imagined in September.

The Blue Jackets are a work in progress and so is their coach.

When the NHL locked out the 2004-05 season, Hitchcock made short commutes to Princeton, N.J., to do some voluntary work with the Princeton University hockey team. And he took that as an excuse to sit in on lectures presented by the eminent historian, Dr. James McPherson, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work on the Civil War. One of McPherson’s books, Battle Cry of Freedom, is credited with the renaissance in interest about the conflict. Another of his prizewinning books is entitled: For Cause and Comrades. Why men fought in the Civil War.

Hitchcock also lunches, on odd occasions, with Jeff Shaara, a best-selling author of copiously researched historical novels. Shaara is best known for completing the Civil War trilogy that was started by his late father, Michael Shaara, whose masterpiece about Gettysburg, The Killer Angels, is a must read in the genre.

“I’ve had lunch a couple of times with the coach,” Jeff Shaara said in December. “We’re not close friends or anything because we don’t know each other that well. But I can say I enjoy his company, his interests. What I do is explore characters. He asks me about Grant, Lee, Jackson and other commanders. It makes sense from a logical point of view. The business he’s in, leadership is everything. You can talk all you want about strategy and tactics, but leadership is everything.”

One of Hitchcock’s closer friends in the field is Patrick Falci, an actor, re-enactor and historian. Falci is known for his portrayal of legendary Confederate general A.P. Hill, who was Stonewall Jackson’s right-hand man.

“Is this professionally motivated? A little bit,” Hitchcock said. “I never thought about using it hockeywise until people started asking me about my interest. And it just started to grow. I went to Texas, where there are a couple of huge re-enactments. It drove it home: There are reasons people follow. There are reasons the soldiers followed Stonewall Jackson. For all of his idiosyncrasies and all of his mannerisms, there was a reason they followed him, and there was a reason they followed Grant.”

By quirk of timing, Hitchcock now finds himself working in the city where the Union blue jackets were manufactured, in the state that gave more soldiers to the Union cause than any other. He’s in proximity to the birthplaces of many of the greatest union officers, including Ulysses S. Grant (Point Pleasant), William Tecumseh Sherman (Lancaster), James A. Garfield (Mentor) and Rutherford B. Hayes (Delaware).

Every game in Nationwide Arena, just before the opening faceoff, a stylish video shows a Union officer sounding a charge, and soldiers following over a wall and across a snowy landscape. The blue-jacketed soldiers become Blue Jackets players in a flash of computerized graphics. Hitchcock, with his arms crossed and with that slightly angry look on his face, has been known to take a peek at the video.

Is it goofy to think that it was this preordained for him to be in this place, at this time?

“I don’t know if it’s preordained,” he said. “But when I was coming here to take the job I was starting to think how unique it is. The first logo I see is the one with the hat. Let me put it this way: When the team came into the league, and I was in Dallas, everyone was wondering what the heck a Blue Jacket was. But I understood it.”

I had no idea that Ken Hitchcock was a reenactor, and I had no idea that his interest runs as deep as it does. I think it’s wonderful that our team–lousy as it might be–has a coach who truly understands and appreciates the significance of the team’s name. And it allows for a convergence of two of the things I love the most–NHL hockey and the Civil War.

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