October, 2007

I own the complete run of Gettysburg Magazine, all 37 issues. For those keeping score, at two issues per year, that makes 19 years’ worth of magazines. It’s the ONLY magazine that I’ve EVER purchased where I’ve kept every single issue, including North and South, where I sat on the company’s board of directors for a number of years. To date, I’ve had something like eight articles published in the magazine, including three on John Buford. I’ve been in the last two issues in a row, and I just submitted another article on the Battle of Funkstown for the July 2008 issue earlier today.

There was a gap of seven or eight years there where I didn’t submit anything to the magazine due to pesonal conflicts with Sweet Old Bob (“SOB”) Younger. I swore that as long as Bob was still alive, I would not submit so much as a single word of my work to the magazine. Once Bob died, I started submitting articles to the magazine again.

The following was posted on the Gettysburg Discussion Group today:

Lew and I received a letter from Andy Turner, Publisher/Editor of The Gettysburg Magazine today. After thanking us for our support of the magazine, he writes that “we have more articles on hand than we’ve had for many years, which certainly bodes well for the future of the magazine…I can plow straight ahead in an effort to make the magazine the best it can be.

The magazine, since its inception, has never been a money maker. It has almost always broken even, but never been profitable. I believe the financial future of the magazine lies in subscriptions. My goal is to be able to continue the magazine without advertising. To do that, we need to increase the number of subscribers.

The subscription rate has remained steady for many yars now at about 1,500. I find it hard to believe that in this entire country there are only 1,500 people who would want to subscribe to this magazine. This is where we can use your help. If every subscriber could get one new subscriber, it would go a long way to securing the future of the magazine. It could be a friend, a
fellow Round Table member, or even the local library. Every subscription helps.

For more information:
P.O. Box 1311
Dayton, Ohio 45401

I strongly support what Andy Turner, the new publisher of the magazine, is doing, and I want to encourage any and all of you to consider subscribing, as Andy requests. You will get approximately 150 8 1/2 x 11 pages chock full of good information, great maps, good photographs, and not a single advertisement. As far as that goes, it’s money well spent, and you won’t regret it.

Please support Andy’s efforts to keep the magazine free of advertisements.

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I usually try to keep my personal politics out of this blog. That I am a Jewish, liberal-leaning Democrat is no secret, but I usually don’t rant about politics or religion here. This time, however, I just can’t help myself. I apologize for doing so.

I heard about Ann Coulter’s anti-Semitic rant on Donny Deutsch’s CNBC program today for the first time. When I read it, I was absolutely horrified:

NEW YORK Appearing on Donny Deutsch’s CNBC show, “The Big Idea,” on Monday night, columnist/author Ann Coulter suggested that the U.S. would be a better place if there weren’t any Jewish people and that they needed to “perfect” themselves into — Christians.

It led Deutsch to suggest that surely she couldn’t mean that, and when she insisted she did, he said this sounded “anti-Semitic.”

Asked by Deutsch whether she wanted to be like “the head of Iran” and “wipe Israel off the Earth,” Coulter stated: “No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. … That’s what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament.”

Deutsch told E&P’s sibling magazine, Adweek, today, “I was offended. And then, and this was interesting, she started to back off and seemed a little upset.”

Asked to gauge her reaction, Deutsch said, “I think she got frightened that maybe she had crossed a line, that this was maybe a faux pas of great proportions. I mean, did it show ignorance? Anti-Semitism? It wasn’t just one of those silly things.”

A transcript, provided by Media Matters, follows.

DEUTSCH: Christian — so we should be Christian? It would be better if we were all Christian?


DEUTSCH: We should all be Christian?

COULTER: Yes. Would you like to come to church with me, Donny?

DEUTSCH: So I should not be a Jew, I should be a Christian, and this would be a better place?

COULTER: Well, you could be a practicing Jew, but you’re not.

DEUTSCH: I actually am. That’s not true. I really am. But — so we would be better if we were – if people — if there were no Jews, no Buddhists —

COULTER: Whenever I’m harangued by —

DEUTSCH: — in this country? You can’t believe that.

COULTER: — you know, liberals on diversity —

DEUTSCH: Here you go again.

COULTER: No, it’s true. I give all of these speeches at megachurches across America, and the one thing that’s really striking about it is how utterly, completely diverse they are, and completely unself-consciously. You walk past a mixed-race couple in New York, and it’s like they have a chip on their shoulder. They’re just waiting for somebody to say something, as if anybody would. And —

DEUTSCH: I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree with that at all. Maybe you have the chip looking at them. I see a lot of interracial couples, and I don’t see any more or less chips there either way. That’s erroneous.

COULTER: No. In fact, there was an entire Seinfeld episode about Elaine and her boyfriend dating because they wanted to be a mixed-race couple, so you’re lying.

DEUTSCH: Oh, because of some Seinfeld episode? OK.

COULTER: But yeah, I think that’s reflective of what’s going on in the culture, but it is completely striking that at these huge megachurches — the idea that, you know, the more Christian you are, the less tolerant you would be is preposterous.

DEUTSCH: That isn’t what I said, but you said I should not — we should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians, then, or —


DEUTSCH: Really?

COULTER: Well, it’s a lot easier. It’s kind of a fast track.

DEUTSCH: Really?

COULTER: Yeah. You have to obey.

DEUTSCH: You can’t possibly believe that.


DEUTSCH: You can’t possibly — you’re too educated, you can’t — you’re like my friend in —

COULTER: Do you know what Christianity is? We believe your religion, but you have to obey.

DEUTSCH: No, no, no, but I mean —

COULTER: We have the fast-track program.

DEUTSCH: Why don’t I put you with the head of Iran? I mean, come on. You can’t believe that.

COULTER: The head of Iran is not a Christian.

DEUTSCH: No, but in fact, “Let’s wipe Israel” —

COULTER: I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention.

DEUTSCH: “Let’s wipe Israel off the earth.” I mean, what, no Jews?

COULTER: No, we think — we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say.

DEUTSCH: Wow, you didn’t really say that, did you?

COULTER: Yes. That is what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. You have to obey laws. We know we’re all sinners —

DEUTSCH: In my old days, I would have argued — when you say something absurd like that, there’s no —

COULTER: What’s absurd?

DEUTSCH: Jews are going to be perfected. I’m going to go off and try to perfect myself —

COULTER: Well, that’s what the New Testament says.

DEUTSCH: Ann Coulter, author of If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans, and if Ann Coulter had any brains, she would not say Jews need to be perfected. I’m offended by that personally. And we’ll have more Big Idea when we come back.


DEUTSCH: Welcome back to The Big Idea. During the break, Ann said she wanted to explain her last comment. So I’m going to give her a chance. So you don’t think that was offensive?

COULTER: No. I’m sorry. It is not intended to be. I don’t think you should take it that way, but that is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews. We believe the Old Testament. As you know from the Old Testament, God was constantly getting fed up with humans for not being able to, you know, live up to all the laws. What Christians believe — this is just a statement of what the New Testament is — is that that’s why Christ came and died for our sins. Christians believe the Old Testament. You don’t believe our testament.

DEUTSCH: You said — your exact words were, “Jews need to be perfected.” Those are the words out of your mouth.

COULTER: No, I’m saying that’s what a Christian is.

DEUTSCH: But that’s what you said — don’t you see how hateful, how anti-Semitic —


DEUTSCH: How do you not see? You’re an educated woman. How do you not see that?

COULTER: That isn’t hateful at all.

DEUTSCH: But that’s even a scarier thought.

That this intolerant bitch doesn’t get that she’s bigoted, hateful, and thoroughly anti-Semitic is absolutely flabbergasting to me. I can’t begin to imagine that she doesn’t see anything wrong with her comments. I think that the thing that bothers me the most is the incredibly condescending tone she adopts. For an educated person, it’s astonishing. She needs a .45 caliber bullet to the brain.

Maybe–and I can only hope so–this time she’s gone too far. I can only hope that this will be what it takes to cause people to FINALLY disregard what this bitch says. Why people think she has anything worthwhile to say–let alone to listen to–stupefies me. I don’t get it.

Perhaps she needs to spend some time as Osama bin Laden’s whore. That’s about all she’s good for.

Again, I apologize for allowing my personal politics to creep into this blog, but I just couldn’t sit back and let this pass without saying something about it.

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Here’s a hat tip to Brooks Simpson, over at Civil Warriors for bringing this one to my attention.

It would appear that some neo-Confederate die-hards have gone ahead and formed their own (unelected) Confederate government, and that they are trying to secede once again. I guess they didn’t learn their lesson the first time.

Here’s their mission statement: The Restoration of the Confederacy is a movement of the people from the bottom up and not the top down. This is not a political movement in regards to political parties, but an action of resistance and insistence upon the liberation of our nation and the departure of agencies and personnel of the United States of America whom we shall endeavor to maintain friendly and neighborly relations, one nation to the other. But, the unlawful occupation of the Confederate States of America must cease.

If you want an especially good laugh, read the Mission Statement of the Department of State, which indicates that its primary mission is to negotiate a peace treaty with the government of the United States in order to end the occupation of the Confederate States by the U. S. government.

They also say, “The CSA is not bound by laws and rules established by the Occupying nation, the U.S.A. since they lack jurisdiction over the territory of the South who did not surrender nor sign any treaty with the Federal Union.” And funniest of all, they find that the members of the League of the South, a bunch of lunatics in their own right, have committed treason against the Confederate States of America. I was literally laughing out loud as I read this gibberish. My guess is that the closest thing to a law degree that any of these imbeciles has is watching lots of episodes of Law and Order.

They claim that they constitute a valid and functioning government separate and apart from the United States government or the governments of the states that allegedly make up this new Confederacy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in my lawyer’s mind, that constitutes treason. It certainly meets the dictionary definition of treason: “Treason is any attempt to overthrow the government or impair the well-being of a state to which one owes allegiance; the crime of giving aid or comfort to the enemies of one’s government.”

The whole thing would be hysterically funny if these people weren’t serious. And they are, apparently, as serious as a heart attack. As a consequence, they scare me. Perhaps they need to understand, in a very real and demonstrative way, that plotting to overthrow the lawful government of the United States is a felony called treason, which is punishable by death.

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10 Oct 2007, by

The Retreat Book

We turned in the manscript of the retreat book to Ted Savas last night. It’s hard to believe that, after all of these many years of work, it’s finally finished.

Here are some statistics about the book that you might find interesting:

–There are 18 chapters and an epilogue, along with one appendix. There is a foreword by Noah Andre Trudeau and a preface by Ted Alexander.
–Just the 18 chapters and the epilogue (does NOT include endnotes): 132,944 words.
–With the endnotes, bibliography, tours, appendix, etc., added: 191,964 words.
–There are 1,534 endnotes.
–There will be 16 maps.
–There will be approximately 50 illustrations.
–The bibliography contains over 800 entries, meaning that we looked at more than 800 sources in researching and writing the book. Of those, over 600 are primary sources.
–There are two driving tours, one of the route of the Wagon Train of Wounded, and one that follows the fighting as Meade pursued Lee’s army. Both driving tours contain GPS coordinates.

I’m very proud of it. I can’t wait to see it in print. It’s going to be a BIG book.

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Most serious students of the Army of the Potomac are familiar with the volume of published letters of Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman, a volunteer aide who served on the staff of General George Meade from the fall of 1863 until the end of the Civil War. Meade’s letters are especially insightful, and they’re also very funny in places. It was Lyman who dubbed Meade “The Great Peppery” for his explosive temper.

It’s also long been known that Lyman maintained a set of private journals that were not intended for consumption by anyone else but Lyman himself. Consequently, those journals are even more insightful and even more filled with Lyman’s biting wit and astute observations than are his letters home. For years, the journals have cried out for someone to publish them.

The good news is that the Kent State University Press has finally published Meade’s journals. David W. Lowe has edited the journals and has brought them out in a book titled Meade’s Army: The Private Notebooks of Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman. The book is rather large at 518 pages, but it also has a large pricetag at $45.00.

I’ve ordered the book, and it has not come yet. However, I’m certain that it will be worth the investment, and I expect it to be used often in the course of my work. I will report back once I’ve had an opportunity to review the book.

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One of the things that amazes me about my historical work is how threads seem to unravel as you tug on them. There have been a number of instances where one project has led directly to another.

Here’s just one example.

Sheridan’s Trevilian Raid ended on June 24, 1864, when his two divisions rejoined the Army of the Potomac at Petersburg. In the meantime, the Wilson-Kautz Raid began on June 21 and ended on July 2, 1864. The two expeditions overlapped, and one of the reasons why the Wilson-Kautz Raid was a failure was that Sheridan did not keep Hampton and the Confederate cavalry occupied as Grant expected him to. There has never been a truly detailed study of the Wilson-Kautz Raid (there is one book, but its focus is on the fight for the Staunton River Bridge and not the entire raid), and I decided to tackle that project at some point. I’ve got several hundred research files of primary source material to use to base a book on the Wilson-Kautz Raid upon, and at come point, I will write that book.

In the course of wrapping up the retreat manuscript, J. D. and I identified a really interesting story that stems directly from the Wagon Train of Wounded, and we’ve decided to do an article about it. The article will focus in on something that is interestin but very tangential to the retreat book, but which will also serve to promote the book when the time comes. That’s the best of all worlds, as it means that we will be able to bring a great story to light in detail and still use it as an opportunity to try to bolster our book sales.

It’s a great example of how really interesting stories sometimes end up being offshoots of my projects.

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2007 has been a horrible year for us. It’s just been one unpleasant thing after another. Because of Susan’s being laid off, we didn’t get to take a vacation this year. Now that things are better, she’s got a new job and can’t take vacation time yet. Talk about a Catch-22.

On top of all of it, I am absolutely swamped–buried–with legal work. From one perspective, that’s a good thing, because it ensures cash flow, but on another, it’s hitting me with more at a time when I’m already feeling tired and burned out. I REALLY need a vacation…..

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5 Oct 2007, by


Augie came to live with us in January 1996. He was just over six weeks old, and he weighed about 8 pounds. He was a gorgeous honey-colored golden retriever puppy. The breeder had nicknamed him Bubba because they thought it suited his personality. His mother was small, only about 50 pounds, and his father was a grand champion showdog.

Our first golden was named Caesar. It suited his personality. We decided to stay with the Roman emperor theme, so we named the new puppy Augustus, Emperor of Olde Orchard, which is the name of our neighborhood. We called him Augie for short, although the name Bubba stuck with him, and, because he was like a giant teddy bear, we also called him Bear. We got him because Caesar was very destructive during the day when we were at work because he was bored. We figured that if we got him a playmate, it would stop. And that’s exactly what happened. The two of them were attached at the hip from the moment we brought him home.

Augie grew into a 105 pound barrel chested guy. He was huge. He was also the only golden retriever I’ve ever seen with absolutely no interest whatsoever in retrieving. I think he figured it was beneath his imperial dignity.

Instead, what Augie wanted was to be loved. We sometimes called him Bubba the Love Sponge, not because of the idiot shock jock, but because he was like a sponge. He just sucked up the love. His favorite thing to do was to sit next to us on the couch, lean against one of us, and get loved. He would be in heaven. He was the embodiment of unconditional love.

He was a Stepford dog. There was nothing he hated more than being corrected, so we usually only had to tell him not to do something once, and that was that. He was big, gentle, sweet, and the most loving dog in the world. He was also a big fraidy cat. He would not go down the steps until he was almost six months old and 60 pounds. I used to have to carry him down. Finally, one weekend while I was off at Gettysburg, Susan and her mother coaxed him down the steps with bits of hot dog, and that resolved that.

He absolutely adored cold weather and snow. His favorite thing in the world was to lay out in the snow, just enjoying it. We used to refer to cool weather as bear weather. We found it very difficult to get him to come inside when it was bear weather. He just wanted to enjoy it. Another favorite thing of his, as you can tell from the photo, was sitting at the gate to our back yard, just watching the world go by.

Augie was a real Type-B personality. He was very laid back, and definitely a follower. However, when Caesar died, it fell upon him to become the pack leader, even though he wasn’t really suited to it. Other than his bad hayfever allergies, the cataract he developed in one eye, and the bad arthritis that he developed as he got older, we were always really lucky with him–he was always very healthy. He also got very hard of hearing as he got older, but Susan and I were both convinced that some of that was a convenient excuse not to come in out of the bear weather. He would just pretend he couldn’t hear us calling him. 🙂

A couple of weeks ago, he suddenly lost interest in his food. He vomited, and there was grass in it. He’d had gastritis previously, so we figured maybe he was having another attack of gastritis. The next day, he was fine. He was eating, and drinking, and even playing a bit with Aurora and Nero. Everything seemed okay.

This morning, he ate his breakfast, and went outside. He seemed to be okay, so I went to work. When I got home from work, he was laying down, and he’d vomited again. I got the dogs outside, and he just lay down on the ground. That wasn’t like him at all. I brought him in and he wouldn’t eat. He just lay down. I got him to eat a cookie, but that didn’t stay down either. He was obviously in distress, and in my heart of hearts, I knew it was something serious. When I carried him out to the car, I could tell that he’d lost at least 10-15 pounds in the past few weeks, as he was much lighter than I’d remembered in a very long time.

We took him to the emergency vet clinic tonight–they’re open 24/7/365–and they told us what we feared the most. He had advanced cancer, and he was bleeding internally. They gave us two options: risky surgery and chemo that might have bought us six months, or putting him down. Neither Susan nor I could bear the thought of putting him through an ordeal like that at his advanced age, especially if it would only buy us a few months, and even then, nothing was certain. That left us with no option but to put him down.

They gave him an IV and hyrdrated him a bit, and he was up and walking and his tail was wagging, and for a few minutes, it was like he was okay again. But we knew it was temporary. We spent a few minutes with him, snuggling and petting and loving him, and then the vet came in, and he left us quietly, gently, and without suffering. As I would have expected of him, he went quietly into that good night. He just lay his head down and went to sleep. He’s now in heaven with Caesar and Cleo, young and healthy again.

We’ve now lost all three of our original pack of goldens. That’s now three of them in the last three years. Fortunately, Nero is 2 1/2 and Aurora 1 1/2, so hopefully, we’re going to get a break from this for a few years, because the pain is intense. I know we did the only thing we could for Augie, and I know it was truly merciful, but it is incredibly painful and incredibly difficult. I’m cried out and feeling emotionally drained just now. I’ve literally just lost a best friend, and it hurts. A lot.

I know I will see him again some day. For now, though, I miss him already. Sleep well, Augie. You’re missed by Susan, Nero, Aurora, and me. You will always be in our hearts.

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As some of you know, there was a big kerfuffle a couple of years ago over the ownership of documents that were in the possession of Evander M. Law at the end of his life. The State of South Carolina claimed them, and so did the family, who wanted to auction the stuff off. Unfortunately for those of us who care about this sort of thing, the state lost, and the stuff went to auction. Here’s an article about it:

Confederate Gen. Lee’s Letters Sell for $61,000 at Auction

By Jim Davenport


Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Three letters written by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee during the Civil War sold at auction for $61,000 Saturday.

The sales prices were far off the record $630,000 a Lee item sold for in 2002. But two letters from the general who ended the war with surrender in 1865 sold last year for $5,000 and $1,900, said Patrick Scott, director of rare books and special collections at the University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library.

The letters were among more than 400 documents Thomas Willcox put up for auction after a protracted fight with the state, which claimed ownership of the documents that had been in Willcox’s family for years. Willcox had carried them stuffed in 11 manilla folders in the back of his SUV until one day about six years ago when he got bored, looked through them and found the three letters signed by Lee.

Neither Willcox nor the auction house had specific figures, but estimates placed the total sales at less than $400,000.

Willcox said he was disappointed. He said he’s sure he at least broke even after spending money on legal fees and $70,000 for a detailed appraisal of the documents. “I thought it would have gone better,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s over,” he said.

Two of the Lee letters sold to an out-of-state collector bidding by phone who would not immediately agree to be interviewed. One – selling for $20,000 – was written to South Carolina Gov. Francis Wilkinson Pickens talking about troop strength and conditions along the state’s coast.

“The strength of the enemy, as far as I am able to judge, exceeds the whole force that we have in the state,” Lee wrote to Pickens on Dec. 27, 1861. “It can be thrown with great celerity against any point, and far outnumbers any force we can bring against it in the field.”

Another letter about troop strength from Lee to Pickens dated two days later sold for $14,000.

David Ellison of Columbia spent $27,000 for a Lee letter that talked about using slave labor to build defenses. Ellison hadn’t read the letter and bought it based on the description in the auction catalog as a piece of history. “I’m not sure what his letter says. But to put General Lee and slave labor in the same” letter, he said, “convinced me that that had to be a document of some historical importance.”

But Ellison also was bidding on and winning letters from his great-great-grandfather, Civil War Gov. Milledge Luke Bonham. Those, he said would be something important to give to his sons. He said he would think of making the Lee letter available to a museum or some other institution.

At least two dozen of the letters mentioned slaves, from their medical treatment to use as labor.

For instance, a letter from Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard protested discharging of slaves from their work when “the enemy is throwing at our works more than 500 projectiles an hour.”

Fewer than 50 people gathered to hear auctioneer Bill Mishoe work his way through notebooks filled with the old correspondence, telegrams, bills and receipts held up in plastic sleeves for bidders to see.

The issues addressed in the letters ranged from defense to the mundane.

For instance, Pickens wrote to Brig. Gen. Arthur Middleton Manigault on Oct. 3, 1861, about receiving and disposing of Enfield muskets. The letter sold for $300. And a $75 bid bought a bill of sale for bags of flour.

Cal Packard drove down from Mansfield, Ohio, and left after spending more than $100,000. He said his biggest prize was walking away with original documents tied to South Carolina’s secession convention in Charleston – including Pickens’ copies.

That’s “really cool,” the former teacher said. “There’s just a tremendous amount of historical significance.”

“Really cool” indeed. Now, I’m not opposed to the idea of private collections–I have a tiny one myself. However, this stuff should be in a repository where the public can have access to it, not where it’s hoarded away for personal delight.

I deeply regret that the court found in favor of Willcox, as this material should rightfully be in the South Carolina State Archives, not being used as a profit-making venture by some yahoo who has no appreciation for the treasure he had in his grasp.

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4 Oct 2007, by


Two more blogs appear to have bitten the dust. Neither Mike Koepke’s blog nor the Touch the Elbow blog have had new posts in more than two months. Consequently. I have deleted the links to both. If they ever resurface, I’m happy to consider linking them again. I’m especially sorry to see Touch the Elbow go. There was always good content on that blog.

I also realized that I had been remiss in not adding a link to Jenny Goellnitz’s fine blog, Draw the Sword and Throw Away the Scabbard, which I visit every day. That oversight has now been rectified.

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