Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nerds Unite!

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Well, if there is anything more nerdy than a meeting of Star Trek fans and Civil War Buffs I don't know what is.

But if you are seeking that nexus - for whatever reason, allow me to direct you to one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek - featuring none other than President Abraham Lincoln.

It's great - it really is. With all sorts of lessons for the late 1960s television audience. President Lincoln even refers to Lt. Nyota Uhura (played by Nichelle Nichols) as a "charming negress." Yeah...that sort of makes us cringe today - and it gave the officers of the Enterprise a chuckle. But of course the point was to show the racially charged public of the 1960s - on the heels of church bombings, police dogs, and fire hoses - just how far we will have come in the future...stardate: 2265.

Captain's log.....kudos. You know what else?  Star Trek was the first program ever to air an interracial kiss - between Captain Kirk and Uhura. That show had stones.



Longstreet's Beard

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

You know, sometimes things are just plain ridiculous. I mean......asinine. Case in point - Tom Berenger did a fair enough job playing Confederate General James Longstreet in the Film Gettysburg. But the beard....really?????

Whoever did the hair and makeup for this film should be tarred and feathered. Or at least, never allowed to work in the motion picture business. I have heard that wretched looking thing compared to squirrels, beavers, brooms, coon-skin caps, and any number of other things that all would look equally ridiculous glued to a man's chin.

My God people, did anyone think this thing looked like a real beard? Couldn't Berenger have just grown one? It would have been worth the time. It is really really distracting.

But here is another problem. To a whole lot of people, the film Gettysburg is what the  battle - and those who took part in it - looked like. So now, to my horror, when people think of James Longstreet - many of them think of Tom Berenger as Longstreet.

Don't believe me? Take a trip to the battlefield sometime. You will find a very odd (dedicated post Gettysburg) monument to - James "Tom Berenger" Longstreet - beard and all. The power of the motion picture is simply remarkable - despite the sometimes hideous use of fake facial hair.



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Commemoration of Emancipation - In Case You Missed It

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Yesterday, I had a few words to say about an important Philadelphia landmark - the GAR museum. In keeping with the Philly theme, today I want to talk briefly about a Civil War monument – and the veterans who stood behind its message.

Union veterans held fast to their cause and commemorated their fight to restore the Union and end slavery. Well into the twentieth century, long after Americans were supposed to have marginalized the slavery issue, veterans still deemed their fight a moral rectitude. One significant example of Union veterans’ commemorative efforts during the last days of organized Civil War veteran activity ensconced the meaning of the war from a Union perspective in a very public site of historical memory.

Late in the 1920s, the few surviving members of GAR posts in and around Philadelphia witnessed the dedication of the Keystone State’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial. Completed in 1927, Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s twin 40-foot pylons were intended as a gateway to Philadelphia’s Parkway Gardens. Eventually moved, they now serve as the ceremonial entrance to the upper Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Conspicuously, although strangely overlooked by scholars, the inscription on one tower recalls a virtuous fight to grant freedom to a race in chains. Looking from the south side of the Parkway, west of 20th Street, the inscription reads: “In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom for the free.” In the late 1920s, a clearer message could not be found anywhere in the country. Union veterans did not forget the emancipationist cause. And for those who care to look, they continue to remind Americans of their fight on a daily basis.

So if you happen to be heading up the Parkway on the way to the Museum of Art to have a go at recreating the epic scene from Rocky, slow down a bit and have a look at this magnificent memorial.



Philadelphia's Grand Army of the Republic Museum

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

An exceptionally smart friend of mine shared an interesting article with me the other day. It was all about eccentricity giving way to uniformity in the world of art museums. So it seems that some of the most unique museums around the country are - shall we say - enhancing their identities. The effort is on one hand, good for revenue, but on the other, an unfortunate downgrade to conformity. The museum experience, the author suggested, was reduced to a check on the tourist's to-do list.

It got me thinking about my favorite museum in the whole world - the Grand Army of the Republic Museum in Philadelphia. I did a bit of research there when I was in grad school. The museum - located in a less than desirable neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia - is a three story brick house built by Dr. John Ruan in 1796. For the longest time, the building was home to the GAR post #2 of Philadelphia and the GAR Department of Pennsylvania. Back in the heyday of Civil War commemoration - the good veterans of Philly took especial care in collecting all kinds of artifacts. They kept and attempted preservation of everything from stuffed Civil War era eagles to a cloth stained with Lincoln's blood. And tons of personal and official papers - tons.

The sad thing is, the museum is in a state of disarray. When I was there a few years back, I found evidence of roosting pigeons in archival materials and a USCT flag just laying exposed on a table. They are in desperate need of money, help, and organization. But what if they get it? In all honesty I am afraid of what might happen.

Once upon a time I thought what a grand idea it would be to spearhead a campaign (with the help of people who knew how to do these sorts of things) to rebuild the GAR Museum - to relocate it to a nice neighborhood and give it that "state of the art" look and feel. Not so much any more. Oh sure - I would love to someday help raise the money to further preserve the museum's artifacts, catalog its holdings, and create some kind of searchable user-friendly database for researchers and students.

But I would never move nor change the feel of the place. As a grad student, I had not fully appreciated my visits - I just got what I needed and felt bad that the place was in such shape. But in retrospect and with an even greater nostalgic admiration for all things veteran related, I can see that on an experiential level - my trips to the Ruan House added clarity and perhaps even credibility to my work.

There is a lot to be said for researching in a GAR meeting hall that still pretty much looks like a GAR meeting hall. Hell, the chairs are still set up and the Post colors are in place. When the time is right, I am on board to make something happen at the museum - but not at the expense of the experience.



Monday, March 28, 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial on Facebook

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Social media are proving once again to be an invaluable source for those seeking to engage in some good 'ole Civil War style commemorative activity. For me, it's Twitter. I have been spending more and more time there these days. As a result, the Cosmic America Facebook "fan" page has been sadly neglected. So I revisited the page yesterday afternoon and did a little poking around. I had no idea - but lots of organizations and states promoting sesquicentennial activities are on Facebook! Go figure.

For example - take the Civil War Sesquicentennial Network. It is actually a pretty good spot to get up to date on local and national commemorative events - especially if you are interested on the goings on around the country coupled with peoples' contributions/opinions in comment form. Indeed, there are a varied group who comment on this fan is (in my humble opinion) and intriguing window into the twenty-first century commemorative spirit. The war is alive and well my friends 150 years ex post facto. You might as well get used to it.

So now I am closely following all of the state pages. Have a look at Virginia's. It is an excellent springboard to some of the most salient Civil War commemorative issues. From there I highly recommend linking to all of the other state pages. You will find links to news articles, events, and the offerings of all sorts of Civil War enthusiasts.

I will be spending a little more time on these pages, and of course, reporting right here.



Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Eccentricities of Thomas Jonathan Jackson (another Stonewall post)

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Stonewall Jackson was a peculiar fellow - so peculiar in fact, that more than a few doubted his sanity. Well, I do not think that Jackson was insane - just a bit peculiar. And as peculiarities go, he was a zinger.

Indeed - back when he was teaching at the Virginia Military Institute, students thought him so odd that they referred to him as "Tom Fool." There have even been students' class notes uncovered from his lectures with unflattering cartoons of the foolish Jackson in the margins.

He was a religious zealot, as we all know. But that is not what made him a strange guy. He just did weird stuff. For example, he sucked on lemons constantly. But that is mild compared to the other strange behavior.

He imagined that his body was somehow off balance and would stand for hours on end with his right arm over his head so that his body could regain harmony. What's more, he believed that he was suffering from an unusual arrangement of "jumbled" organs, which proscribed how he would sit or stand. Because of this, Jackson never let his back touch a chair - he sat ramrod straight. And if that isn't enough - he once told a comrade that he could not eat black pepper because it gave him rheumatism in one (not both) of his legs.

This is one strange cat. But you know - as far as fighters go, he was one of the best. Despite his bizarre behavior, he could kick some ass. The Rebs missed him when he was gone.



Friday, March 25, 2011

Reconciliation at Grant's Tomb

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Wrap your head around this - Ulysses S. Grant shaking hands with that rebel Robert E. Lee enshrined forever at his own tomb!!

And why not? The whole point of the war was to bring the country back together - why not show a little spirit of reconciliation? After all, Grant's campaign slogan (or rather, the Republican Party's slogan) for the election of 1868 was "Let Us Have Peace." So there you have it...peace.

But remember, Union veterans had a very clear vision of what peace and reconciliation would look like. Don't forget that. When Americans would learn the history of their greatest conflict, former Union soldiers were determined that they would learn what the war had been about. The Confederacy had fought to destroy the nation and perpetuate the institution of slavery. Period.

Sure, they would say, let us have peace...let us promote reconciliation. But don't forget what happened. Even Grant himself wrote in his memoirs: "I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse."

(Let Us Have) Peace,

Why I Love Bruce Catton

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

We all have our favorite Civil War author - mine is Bruce Catton. Not because he championed some paradigmatic shift or headed some interpretive school of thought, but because he introduced me to Civil War scholarship - written with elegance and grace that I have not seen matched since I first read his work in 1976.

Catton's The Civil War was the first book (a Christmas gift from my grandparents) on the war that I ever read. It was a short history - a condensed version of the war so to speak. Of course I was captivated - who wouldn't be. He brought to life the great issues of the era. What would come of slavery, secession, and the relationship between the federal state and the individual states and localities? He answered my youthful questions (probably framed differently than I would today) in a narrative style that enlivened the era - to say the least. I have since read just about everything he has written. My favorite: The Army of the Potomac Trilogy.

Bruce Catton passed away in 1978 - but we as scholars still have much to learn from him. Those who would weigh down their work (alliteration anyone?) with heavy-handed jargon that no one will ever read might have a look at Mr. Lincoln's Army - if only to have a reminder on hand that a historian can write a compelling...and yes, accessible story.

Catton was not perfect, and his work has certain limitations and flaws. But let's face it. His books are just plain good.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Flag and a Lie - W. P. Inman in Cold Mountain

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

So for the second installment of the Cold Mountain review I give you W. P. Inman, or just Inman, if you like.

Inman is what you might expect of a typical Confederate soldier. He does not own slaves, he is a young man, he is a skilled laborer. While he does not seem to have any particular attachment to southern nationalism - if (and when) the war breaks out - he fights...I suppose because it is what everybody else does.

But Inman soon sours on the war - primarily because he realizes (as do all others in the film) that this is a war fought by the working man to protect the rich man's slave. And there you have it in all its simplistic glory: a rich man's war and a poor man's fight.


Seriously, that argument is so tired and cliche that I am surprised anybody still gives it two hours of their valuable time. The truth is, Inman would have had a stake in preserving slavery as well, even though he was not a slaveholder himself. Why you ask?

Well, for one, in a society such that he lived, Inman always stood the chance of one day owning a slave (or more than one) himself - and thereby climbing the social ladder to the upper classes. This "worker of wood" could have expanded his trade and really carved out a nice life for himself in North Carolina. In a democracy, social mobility is a big deal - something that could have been very appealing indeed.

But even if he were not so ambitious, the institution of slavery meant that Inman always stood above another class of people in a stratified society. Not to mention, with slavery intact, he would never have to compete with an entire group of workers who could potentially under bid his labor.

My guess - in the real world of 1860, Inman would have been very happy to support a slave-holding republic, with all that that encompassed.



Every Piece of This War is Man's Bullshit: The Women of Cold Mountain

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

I never miss a Civil War film. Cold Mountain?? I saw it in the theater years ago - and it took me three days to get through it the second time around. You can make what you want from that comment.

But despite my not so subtle thumbs down, I still find this film worth speaking about, simply because I find so many things troubling about it. In other words - expect more than one post about Cold Mountain.

Today - it's the ladies. I really want to speak about women in this film vis-a-vis Confederate nationalism. All - not some - but ALL of the women in Cold Mountain are outright opposed to the prospect of Confederate independence. I find this particularly odd. Sure, I am willing to concede that some white women in the South opposed the war - or rather - opposed the Confederacy. Of course, this was not the case - not by a long shot.

The film, based on the 1997 best-selling novel of the same title by Charles Frazier, indeed paints an alarmingly one dimensional portrait of the Confederacy's women - and manages to touch all socio-economic bases in the process. A quick rundown of the three central female characters:

Ada Monroe: a refined, sophisticated, well-to-do daughter of a slave-holding Charleston preacher.

Sally Swanger: neighborhood matriarch and the wife of a middling famer.

Ruby Thewes: abrasive, unsophisticated (yet literate) poor white woman.

All three of these women, despite their vast differences, seem very much in tune with one another when it comes to the prospect of Confederate independence - essentially written off in the beginning of the film as man's folly. "Did you get a picture made," Ada asks Inman, the male protagonist, "with your musket and courage on display?" And in the one of the film's culminating moments (there are several) Ruby sums things up pretty well - "They call this war a cloud over the land - but they made the weather. Then they stand in the rain and say shit it's raining!"

The truth is that one or all three of these women would have very likely supported independence, even if they had grown weary of war - something the author never develops...but something that was considerably important to a great many women. Yes friends, women may not have had the franchise in the 1860s, but were profoundly involved in the political process. They sent their men to war willingly, and in many cases, insisted their men enlist and fight for the cause. Why you ask? Because they had a stake in a slave-holding (and by the way, patriarchal) society. Independence fit very well within their white southern worldview. Those of you who wish to argue with me on this point may do so in the comments - I admit that I am vastly over-simplifying here.

On one hand the film's sentiment fits neatly with a scholarly approach suggesting the Confederacy did itself in internally - that precisely because women did not support the war effort (and thus independence) the fighting spirit of the new nation collapsed. Authors such as Drew Gilpin Faust and others have offered such analytical conclusions.

But - even a cursory look at the letters and diaries written by women during and shortly after the war suggest otherwise. Many were very much on board with a southern Confederacy and heartbroken when it did not materialize. So...the women in Cold Mountain who pray "the sooner we lose this war, the better" most definitely did not speak for everyone.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Search for Civil War Veterans in Los Angeles Is On!

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Now - since I have made the decision to write about veterans in the West, I suppose it would be a good idea to find some to write about. First step...cemeteries. I thought I would go after a couple of hard ones first. I found a few at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in, you guessed it, Hollywood (resting place of Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino and lots of other super famous people). There is at least one more at the Westwood Village Memorial Park (resting place of Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Merv Griffin...really - the list goes on and on). I have got their names, states, and units in order - next the archives and see if they turn up anywhere.

Perhaps the more obvious spot - slated for a trip next week - is the National Cemetery in West Los Angeles. This is on the grounds of the Old Soldiers' Home - aka the Sawtelle Veterans' Home, established in 1887. This cemetery is the resting place of many more Civil War (Union) veterans and a Civil War monument to boot. No kidding. I had lived in LA for decades before I knew there was a Civil War monument here.

Stick around - I'll keep you posted and if you have any leads...I am all ears - especially when it comes to former Confederates. I am certain that some made it here, but few have turned up so far.



Monday, March 21, 2011

The Next Project - Civil War Veterans and Westward Expansion

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

After careful consideration I have decided on the next major project. There were many to choose from, including an analysis of the public reaction to the film The Birth of a Nation, and that one is still on deck.

But I have been thinking about Civil War veterans in the West since my early days in graduate school - when I was concentrating on vets in the East.

So on we go. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I speak of veterans, national reconciliation, and celebrations of section embedded in their national commitment. In short - northern and southern veterans embraced reunion on respective terms. Any idea that the issues of war were swept under the rug because of some shared racism are simply nonsense (confused? See this post).

My principal question: what happens when we situate these veterans (or perhaps anybody who lived through the war) within a new nationalist context - one that unfolded in the West?

Westward expansion really picked up steam in the latter third of the nineteenth century - former soldiers and their families made their way into this "pristine" part of the country in extraordinarily large numbers. When they made it - they did what you might expect. The talked about their experiences, set up soldiers' homes, built monuments and national cemeteries. I wonder how (or even if) the fact that they were out West made a difference.

For many, the great expanse that was the West of the late-nineteenth century defines America of that age and indeed informs our nationalist culture today. Expressions of nationalism took on a whole new look, feel, and sensibility. I am after the veterans experiential level as the country moved from a North/South to an East/West orientation. What were veterans' contributions to this shift?



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why Visit a Civil War Battlefield?

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Why should you visit a Civil War battlefield? The answer is a lot more than: because it's fun. It is - of course...but there is more to it.

Sure - visiting a battlefield may be inconvenient - lots of us (like me) do not live near one. So we have to turn to what we read in books or see on maps. But even if this is the case for you - you should try to get one or more anyway.

The simple truth is that the learning experience goes far beyond anything you can read in a book or see on a map. The way the hills roll or where the sun comes up or where a road or fence is placed mean as much as anything anyone could write down. So if you want to understand a battle - why people did what they did - it is important to see where they did it.

You might begin to think...hmmmm....maybe Richard S. Ewell didn't think it was so practicable to take Cemetery Hill on the first day at Gettysburg and cut him some slack. You might figure out why Daniel E. Sickles moved his corps out of line to the high ground on the 2nd day at Gettysburg without orders to do so...even though he sort of messed things up for the rest of the Army of the Potomac. Some of these things you have to see for yourself before you can really grasp the actions.

So head out to your nearest battlefield and see if you don't begin to think differently about things. And while you are at it, be sure to look into battlefield preservation. Many of these historic sites are under attack by suburban sprawl. Which means, we are in danger of losing our history. You can learn more about what you can do to get involved by visiting the Civil War Trust website. Find out how preservation has gained some victories - like Walmart abandoning plans to build on the Wilderness battlefield (yay).



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cosmic America...Double Quick!!!!

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

My friends - I am taking the weekend off! Why you ask?? Because I am running the LA Marathon on Sunday! So...I am really woulnd up with running 26.2 miles.

I'll be back to post again tomorrow with a tidbit or two, and then it is back to the good stuff.

Keep your eyes peeled - the marathon is televised and I am #7600!



Friday, March 18, 2011

What's With the Irish Brigade? (Obligatory - and late - St. Patrick's Day Post)

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

As you know, we at Cosmic America (yes, "we" are only one person but I am considering adding a staff in the near future...maybe an intern or something) strive to engage all who are interested in the Civil War.

So today, the day after St. Patrick's,  I thought that I would simply make a few observations and pose some questions - or rather, one big question: What's with the Irish Brigade?

The thing is this. In terms of the Civil War imagery appearing here and there in popular culture and visitor center gift shops, the Irish Brigade seems to get more than its fair share of face time.

Now I am not in any way denying that these guys deserve accolades - they did...and still do. But I am interested in why people today find them so compelling among the many units of distinction.

Points of possible discussion include, but are certainly not limited to:

1) the fantastically maudlin scene in the film Gods and Generals, where the Irish Brigade face their Irish Confederate counterparts at Fredericksburg. You remember....they burst in to tears as they blaze away at each other - oy.

2) the imbalance favoring the Irish Brigade in the broader collection of popular Civil War artwork. Having a look at paintings by Dan Nance and Don Troiani would be a good place to start. And as a side note - I have always wondered why these paintings show the regimental and national colors flapping furiously in the wind...while none of the soldiers' hats are flying off.

The truth of the matter....I (sorry, we) have more questions than answers. I suppose that is what keeps this blog going.

Fág an bealach!!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shelby Foote and the North's Other Arm (redux)

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

One of my favorite quotes from Ken Burns's epic documentary The Civil War comes from none other that Shelby Foote himself. Yes indeed...America's most well-known and much revered Civil War... ummmm..... interpreter.

Mr. Foote, like many who take a romanticized view of the gallant Confederates fighting hopelessly against long odds, cast the Confederate bid for independence as doomed from the start. "I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back," said Foote. If the Confederacy ever had come close to winning on the battlefield, "the North simply would have brought that other arm out from behind its back. I don't think the South ever had a chance to win that war."

This is my favorite quote precisely because it opens the door to so much discussion. Many - both scholars and popular writers alike, seem to think that a great deal of the citizens of the Confederacy were not really all that committed to winning the war. Not committed to establishing an independent slave-holding republic.

But the idea that white southerners were nothing more than a collection of individuals whose allegiance lay with their states and who, by the mid point of the war, were wallowing in defeatism and despair and more than ready to jump ship, obscures the profound connection that most had to the Confederate national state. Independence was foremost on their minds - and a great deal of the citizens of the CSA were willing to endure the greatest hardships to make sure the Rebs won.

So - I am sure you will find Mr. Foote charming, as he sits comfortably is his wrinkled blue shirt before an impressively dusty collection of old books. But he missed his mark by a Confederate mile. Suggesting that the Confederacy never had a chance and everybody knew it is just not correct. Who would fight a war they knew they had no chance of winning? They even had a good example to follow - remember, a loose confederation of colonies once defeated the British Empire to secure their independence. I am pretty sure the Rebs made note of that one.

And trust me...the Union used both hands - they had read some history too.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Drew Gilpin Faust on Death in the Civil War

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Since I talked about death in books yesterday...I thought I would mention another today (morbid? Perhaps...get over it). I am kind of on the I will make it short.

Want to learn all about 19th century Americans' ideas of a "good" death? Want to know what these same folks do when they are faced with the deaths of 620,000 young men who die far from home and family?

This week I re-read a mighty fine book: This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. It is among the best from Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, prominent Civil War historian, and a person with whom I sometimes agree.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

John Neff's Honoring the Civil War Dead - (his take on) the Problem With Reconciliation

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

And what a perfect morning it is - the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the helicopters are circling overhead. It is a beautiful day in Los Angeles.

Given my tendency to reflect on my work of the past several years, I thought it appropriate to discuss one of my favorite books on the issue of national reconciliation in the wake of civil war (sheesh - that would make a great book subtitle!).

John R. Neff is one of the few (and I mean few) who go against the grain by suggesting that all was not so benignly reconciliationist (for better or worse) during the post war decades - especially in terms of commemoration. Sure, as he admits, there were a great deal of spread-eagle, but alas, issue-free reconciliatory efforts/movements/gestures...or whatever you choose to call them...

...but what of those who persistently reminded citizens of the more troubling memories of the war years? What of those memories that did not fold neatly within the confines of the current understanding of reconciliation? Where do they fit in the commemorative ethos? Neff’s book, Honoring the Civil War Dead: Commemoration and the Problem of Reconciliation, examines those outside the reconciliation framework defined by most scholars. Basking in the light of the “cause victorious,” Neff argues, many of the Union veterans mourning their fallen comrades harbored bitter resentment toward their former enemies.

Reasoning that veterans could in no way imagine the memories of their fallen comrades apart from the contentions of war, he suggests their sentiments represent the key challenge to reconciliatory efforts in the late-nineteenth century. This compelling study does more to expose the lingering bitterness than any of its predecessors.

Yet it oversimplifies antagonisms by reinforcing a dichotomy of reconciled versus unreconciled veterans. Analyzing these individuals in terms of stark opposition – those who were committed to reconciliation and those who were not – may indeed be a dead end.

It is this over simplification that I find so troubling - and what I also find to be the hardest thing to overcome when considering this era. But riddle me this - Can one favor....even embrace reconciliation on antagonistic terms? It seems that yes indeed, one can - especially if you were a Civil War veteran.

I have fired more than one warning shot right here on Cosmic America - and have written a (soon to be published) book on the subject. So stay tuned...there will be more to follow.



Monday, March 14, 2011

Set Your Phaser on Shut Up

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

In the spirit of lightheartedness I offer for your amusement this Civil War edition of the old comedy program, Mr. Show. The Civil War is constantly and will probably always be turning up in comedic ways. In this episode, Civil War reenactors fight it out with other living history enthusiasts (and living future enthusiasts too).

Enjoy -


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Joan Waugh on Grant the Drunk

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

And Happy Sunday morning to you all. And since it is Sunday morning, I presume that many of you joined friends and/or family last night to partake in an adult beverage or two. Yours truly is indeed a fan of revelry - that which includes an occasional cocktail con mis amigos. If you should ever find yourself at a place called Mercantile on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, try "El Diablo." This is one mighty fine drink.

As usual, pretty much everything I do gets me thinking about some sort of Civil War subject. And this morning I am thinking about the rumors of Ulysses S. Grant's excessive drinking. Accusations of drunkenness dogged Grant throughout his military and political career. Popular culture has not let him off the hook either - today, alongside his even less flattering sobriquet "the Butcher," he is still referred to by some disdainfully as Grant the Drunk.

Well is true that Grant took a taste from time to time? It is true that he may have fallen on his ass more than once? Without question. But a drunk? Dare we judge him in such callously simplistic terms? I mean "drunk" just plain lacks complexity - and Grant was a complex fellow...with flaws (just like you and me quit judging and get used to it).

Thanks to the conveniences of modern technology and Youtube, I am going to turn to the expert on the subject. UCLA professor Joan Waugh knows the story on Grant so I will let her do the talking.



Friday, March 11, 2011

I'd love to be a Civil War buff...What do you have to do to be a buff?

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

This is a repost of one I wrote some months ago...I was sorting through some things and thought it would be good for a light-hearted Saturday morning - so there you have it.

Jerry Seinfeld? Keith Hernandez? What do they have to do with the Civil War? a very popular episode of Seinfeld - you know the one...where Jerry sort of gets a man-crush on Keith Hernandez...there is a little dialog between Jerry and George that comes close to my corner of the world. It goes like this:

JERRY: You know who that is? That's

GEORGE: Keith Hernandez? The baseball player?

JERRY: Yeah, that's him.

GEORGE: Are you sure?

JERRY: Positive.

GEORGE: Wow, Keith Hernandez. He's such a great player.

JERRY: Yeah, he's a real smart guy too. He's a Civil War buff.

GEORGE: I'd love to be a Civil War buff. ... What do you have to do to be a buff?

JERRY: So Biff wants to be a buff? ... Well sleeping less than 18 hours a day
would be a start.

Yes...Jerry's right about that. Being a buff is hard work. You need an encyclopedic knowledge of every commander (at least down to the regiment level) and of need to know the battles cold. I have to say...I love it when popular culture and Civil War history intersect. I'll bet you a buck that book sales on the Civil War picked up a bit after this show aired.

But Hernandez aside, lots of academics (not all, mind you, but lots) sort of look down on buffs. They think of them as all "drums and bugles" and no substance. They (it is suggested) don't delve into issues...they don't read all the important scholarship...they dismiss complexity.

I say lighten up a little. Civil War buffs keep interest in this historical period alive. Buffs do buy books, they watch TV shows about history and yes indeed...they (thankfully) follow my Tweets, they watch my Youtube videos, and they comment on my Facebook posts.

I love buffs. Without them, I might not have an audience at all (or at least a much smaller one). So, Mr. Hernandez - I salute you and all like you who find the Civil War fascinating above all else. We are one and the same. If you ever want to talk - just hit me up.


Keith (scholar/buff)

What if what if what if (the Stonewall Jackson Post)

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

And...happy Friday everyone!!

Now as you all know, I get questions daily via Facebook, Youtube, and especially Twitter. This one comes up frequently enough to merit an entire post. And guess what - I am as thrilled as hell about it because it gives me a chance to pitch in on counterfactual history.

So here you go - I am sure you have heard it too: "What if Stonewall Jackson had lived to fight at Gettysburg?"

Oh boy. Well, I guess I should start with just a little background. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson was known to Lee and all across the Confederacy as a fighter. He was ballsy, tough, and quite often outmaneuvered and out fought his better supplied and manned opponents. 2nd Manassas? Kicked ass. The Valley campaign of 1862? Kicked ass. Fredericksburg? Kicked ass. Chancellorsville? Kicked ass. See what I mean...except there was one little problem.

After Stonewall's 2nd corps, ANV effectively routed the Union 11th corps at Chancellorsville, some dumb asses from North Carolina accidentally shot him and he subsequently died a few days later. Bummer for the Rebs. They lost one of their best guys.

So good ole Robert E. Lee decided to reorganize the 2nd corps in to two new corps, the 2nd - under the command of Richard S. Ewell and the 3rd - under the command of A. P. Hill.

Fast forward to July 1, 1863. Elements of Ewell's 2nd corps beat the shit out of the Union 1st and 11th corps at Gettysburg - pushing them through the town and up the heights (Cemetery Hill) just south of town. Lee's orders to Ewell: Take the heights if practicable.

Well, apparently Ewell didn't think it was practicable because he did not take the heights (or even attempt to) and the Union wound up holding the high ground - a fact that would prove very advantageous for the Union later on.

Many armchair generals across the land have since insisted that if Stonewall had been in command on that day - those heights would have been taken - thus insuring Confederate victory at Gettysburg and quite possibly the war itself. Poor old Richard S. Ewell. That is one hell of a historical burden to have hanging over you.

But here's the thing (counterfactual rant begins now). We have NO WAY of knowing what would have happened. NO WAY. PERIOD. Jackson could have done a number of things, maybe he would have taken the hill. Could he have held it? Who knows? Hell - maybe he would have been killed, or had dysentery, or fallen off his horse, or anything at all. The point here is that counterfactual history gets us absolutely nowhere. There were an infinite number of possibilities that day with the people who actually fought in the battle. One of them happened. Let's focus on that and give the "what ifs" a break.

Now there are a few historians around (Mark Grimsley and others) who have postulated some sort of counterfactual "theory" that they suggest will actually shed light on what could have really happened given another set of circumstances.

Nonsense. Attaching a bunch of academic claptrap to the musings and suppositions of what boils down to fantasy has even less utility than the simple "what if" questions over beer, peanuts, and Youtube.

At any rate - if you want to talk about Gettysburg, I am all yours. But let's stick to what actually happened - not what could have.



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cosmic America Speaks - The Civil Warriors Round Table Debriefing

[caption id="attachment_780" align="alignleft" width="290" caption="A pic I snapped with my Iphone right before my talk - they had no idea what was coming their way! "][/caption]

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

As those of you who follow this blog now know very well...this last year has been pretty hectic. Lots of writing, lots of tweeting, and a move across the country. Which means, I have not been doing much in the way of speaking...something that I love to do.

Well, I am happy to say - I am back in the mix. Last night I was honored to speak to the Civil Warriors Round Table in LA's  West San Fernando Valley.

First off, I would like to thank the group for having me. It is nice to feel wanted :)

Second, I would like to say that this is one of the best groups I have ever encountered. While the Civil Warriors number few - relatively - they are a raucous bunch...and very knowledgeable. It was a real joy to speak with them for an hour and a half. The question and answer section was about as fun as anyone could hope for at a Civil War meeting.

I discussed the ways Union veterans commemorated their cause - the issues at stake and their insistence that their cause be remembered. The talk, entitled The View From the North, Reconciliation and the Union Cause - went over very well indeed. And the heated discussion that followed made me happy to be a historian.

I managed to get a few plugs in for the blog and other social media tools for historians - so maybe there will be just a smidge of increased activity here at Cosmic America.

Thanks again Civil Warriors - I am looking forward to our next meeting!



PS - a special thanks to Dave, president of the Kalamazoo Civil War Round Table - who made it all the way from Michigan! It was great to have you!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Gettysburg Tour

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

There is something special about being led around the Gettysburg Battle field by someone who knows what they are talking about I have had the pleasure of seeing the battlefield with some of the best. I have joined Gary Gallagher, Joan Waugh, Matt Gallman, and Glenn LaFantasie, just to name a few, on this field of epic battle.

If you do not happen to run into one of these acclaimed historians while visiting, I suggest checking in to some of the licensed tour guides that work for the NPS.  I "liberated" the video from Youtube of Gary Kross giving his two cents on the Pickett-Pettigrew assault - he seems like he knows what he is doing. And I highly recommend Wayne Motts. I do not agree with everything he says - but you might...and at any rate - he is top notch when it comes to talking about the battle.

I'll be there in June and July for the CWI Conference reporting back with up to the minute updates on the battlefield and in the meeting hall. SO stay tuned - there will all kinds of virtual tours coming your way!



Monday, March 7, 2011

A Speaking Engagement Plug - Civil Warriors Round Table, Wednesday March 9

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

I have mentioned this once or twice already but I thought I would get one last plug in before the speaking engagement. If you live or will be in the Los Angeles area (the west San Fernando Valley, specifically) this Wednesday, March 9th, come on out to the Civil Warriors Round Table.

I'll be going over my thoughts on Union veterans and what they talked about when they commemorated their cause(s). Spoiler alert: they had a lot to say about slavery and treason.

The talk will go off at 7:00 PM sharp - for location info click HERE. There will be a lively discussion to follow.

Hope to see you there!



Sunday, March 6, 2011

John S. Mosby on Slavery and the Cause of the Civil War

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

We all know about John S. Mosby, right? Yep - the storied  "Gray Ghost" commanded the 43rd Battalion, 1st Virginia Cavalry - aka Mosby's Raiders. He was known for lightning raids and quick other words he drove the Yankees nuts.

Mosby fancied himself a straight shooter (in more ways than one) and after the war had no problem speaking his mind - even on the controversial subject of slavery.

In a 1907 letter to Samuel Chapman, he wrote, "People must be judged by the standard of their own age. If it was right to own slaves as property it was right to fight for it. The South went to war on account of slavery. South Carolina went to war - as she said in her Secession proclamation - because slavery wd. not be secure under Lincoln. South Carolina ought to know what was the cause for her seceding."

Now if that is not straight to the point I do not know what is. And this from a former Confederate! Now the good people of the South (the white ones, anyway) for the most part looked down on this kind of talk. Mosby had some other problems, too. He supported Ulysses S. Grant for President. This audacious move earned him the title "alien" in at least one southern state - as he informed a Charlottesville acquaintance. I am sure he was called much worse.

Anyway - I'll admit that Mosby was the exception not the rule when it came to former Confederates and their stance on the "slavery as a cause" argument. I just wanted to point out that not all Rebels thought alike.



Saturday, March 5, 2011

Civil War Institute 2011 Conference Schedule

[caption id="attachment_750" align="alignleft" width="238" caption="Peter S. Carmichael - Director of the Civil War Institute"][/caption]

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

You all know that this June, I will be traveling to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to attend the Civil War Institute’s Sesquicentennial Conference.  I have been invited to broadcast and report on (via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Ustream, etc) all the goings on. That means live broadcasts, interviews, reviews, up to the minute commentary…you name it – Gratis from Cosmic America!

If you have yet to register - you can click HERE - also...poke around to find out more about the program. I have included the schedule of events below - just for fun :)

Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College
Sesquicentennial Conference
June 26-July 1, 2011
"Mobilizing for War and the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run"

Open Schedule as a PDF
Sunday, June 26

1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Registration in CUB Ballroom
2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Early Bird Tour, Chuck Teague
5:30 - 6:45 p.m. Dinner
7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Overview: The War in 1861, Peter Carmichael
8:15 p.m. Ice Cream Social

Monday, June 27

7:45 a.m. Breakfast
8:45 - 10:00 a.m. Prophecy Among Civil War Soldiers: A History of the Future, Jason
10:00 - 10:15 a.m. Break
10:15 - 11:15 a.m. The Lessons of War: Abraham Lincoln and the First Year of the War,
Allen Guelzo

11:15 - 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 a.m. Group Photo, north steps of Pennsylvania Hall
12:15 p.m. Lunch
1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Old Army Doctrine and the Practicalities of Waging War in 1861,
Wayne Wei-Siang Hsieh
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. The North Mobilizes for War, Tim Orr
3:30 - 3:45 p.m. Break
3:45 - 4:45 p.m. The South Mobilizes for War, Mary DeCredico
5:00 - 6:00 p.m. Book Signings
6:00 p.m. Dinner
7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Panel: Turning Civilian Mobs into Professional Armies, Mary
DeCredico, Tim Orr, Wayne Wei-Sian Hsieh,and Jason Phillips

Tuesday, June 28

7:45 a.m. Breakfast
8:45 - 10:00 a.m. The Battle of Balls Bluff and the Committee on the Conduct of the War, Susannah Ural
10:00 - 11:15 a.m. The West Virginia Campaigns of 1861, A. Wilson Greene
11:15 - 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Overview of First Manassas Campaign, Ethan Rafuse
12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 - 2:45 p.m. The High Command after First Manassas, Joseph Glatthaar
2:45 - 3:00 p.m. Break
3:00 - 4:30 p.m. Panel: Fighting for the Confederacy,Susannah Ural, JosephGlatthaar, A. Wilson Greene and Gary Gallagher
4:30 - 5:30 p.m. Book Signings
5:30 - 6:45 p.m. Dinner
7:00 - 8:15 p.m. The Real Lost Cause: The Loyal States' War for Union, Gary Gallagher
8:15 p.m. Ice Cream Social

Wednesday, June 29

7:15 a.m. Breakfast

8:00 a.m. Manassas tours depart campus (6 buses)

First Manassas Battlefield Tours
Guides: Ed Bearss, Ethan Rafuse, Joe Rizzo, Ray Brown, Harry Smeltzer, Jim Burgess, and Greg Wolf [Lunch and Dinner in Manassas]


Gettysburg Program: Special Collections Tour with Director Karen Drickamer and Gettysburg Battlefield Tour with Jennifer Murray

Thursday, June 30

Gettysburg Guides: Scott Hartwig, Troy Harman, John Heiser, Wayne Motts,

Jennifer Murray, Greg Mertz,

and Tim Orr
7:15 a.m. Breakfast
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Breakout Session #1
9:00 - 9:10 a.m. Break
9:10 - 10:10 a.m. Breakout Session #2
10:10 - 10:20 a.m. Break
10:20 - 11:20 a.m. Breakout Session #3
11:20 - 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Breakout Session #4
12:30 p.m. Lunch
2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Tour Gettysburg Battlefield with Gettysburg Guides
6:30 p.m. Banquet/Raffle/Auction

Friday, July 1

7:30 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 a.m. All participants check out of dorms

An all-star cast, right?? And if you can't make it, you can always check in with me! Hope to see you there (or here)!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Sons of Confederate Veterans, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and the Mississippi License Plate

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Well, the SCV is at it again. This time, as part of the nation-wide (and indeed, international) effort to commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial, The SCV has proposed a Nathan Bedford Forrest commemorative license plate for the state of Mississippi (or...if you live in Mississippi - a commemorative "tag").

Now we all know about good ole Nathan Bedford Forrest. Prewar slave trader, Confederate commander behind the infamous Fort Pillow massacre of black Union soldiers, postwar Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and the man who novelist Shelby Foote once called one of the two true geniuses of the Civil War (a distinction shared, according to Foote, with Abraham Lincoln - oy gevalt).

Now the SCV officially denounces all hate groups who use Confederate imagery to promote racism. Fine - but their choice of Forrest as a man worthy of accolades? I am not sure I see how they can get around the whole racist thing on this one. I mean....Forrest????? He was the head of the KKK for goodness's sake! What the hell??

For those of you who are a little irritated (or rather, greatly offended) that Forrest might actually find his way to a Mississippi plate, you may be able to relax a little. When asked to comment on the proposal, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a Republican, told the Associated Press, "It won't become law because I won't sign it."

So it seems that Mississippi's elected officials have come a long way since the last big Civil War celebration, the centennial between 1960 and 1965. We all know what that state was like in the early 1960s, right? Not such a good place to be raising a fuss about keeping a white "hero" out of sight.

These days the SCV are struggling to keep race and images of slavery out of the commemorative scene and away from the press. They may be struggling in vain - even in Mississippi. Despite their greatest efforts, SCV members may just have to admit that race played a crucial role in the war - and that although they promote "heritage not hate," their cause (with Nathan Bedford Forrest 100% on board) was intricately connected to preserving racial slavery.



PS - thanks to Chris Hall for reminding me about this one!

The Charleston Mercury Defends the Fight for 1865

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

I run across people all the time who try to convince me that the Confederacy was not established to preserve the institution of slavery. Of course I think that is nonsense - so I figured that from time to time I would a post tidbit of primary evidence to illustrate exactly how slavery was the driving force behind secession and war.

So here is a succinct, straight to the point newspaper article. Now I know that one article does not prove an argument. So stay tuned - I will give you lots and lots. This article  from an 1865 edition of the Charleston Mercury - the day is unknown but it seems like the CSA is very close to the end - is a good place to start. Sorry, no picture of the actual article - so I posted and old page of the Mercury from 1861.

Pay special attention. The author notes slavery explicitly as the cause of the war and the reason to maintain the fight...despite the severe losses endured by the South. Further, alluding to the proposition that blacks be enlisted to fight for the Confederacy, the Mercury takes a firm stand against arming black people. It would only lead to emancipation, notes the author - thus rendering their secession pointless.

I have quoted the article below in full (in italics). Please note that when I quote primary evidence I leave the language, grammar, and spelling exactly as written. I do NOT sanitize for your protection. Therefore, some of you may be offended by the choice of words. Rest assured, these are the words of the AUTHOR OF THE MERCURY, not mine.

In 1860 South Carolina seceded alone from the old union of States. Her people, in Convention assembled, invited the slaveholding States (none others) of the old Union to join her in erecting a separate Government of Slave States, for the protection of their common interests. All of the slave states, with the exception of Maryland and Kentucky, responded to her invitation. The Southern Confederacy of slave States was formed.

It was on account of encroachments upon the institution of slavery by the sectional majority of the old Union, that South Carolina seceded from that Union. It is not at this late day, after the loss of thirty thousand of her best and bravest men in battle, that she will suffer it to be bartered away; or ground between the upper and nether mill stones, by the madness of Congress, or the counsels of shallow men elsewhere.

By the compact we made with Virginia and the other States of this Confederacy, South Carolina will stand to the bitter end of destruction. By that compact she intends to stand or to fall. Neither Congress, nor certain makeshift men in Virginia, can force upon her their mad schemes of weakness and surrender. She stands upon her institutions—and there she will fall in their defence. We want no Confederate Government without our institutions. And we will have none. Sink or swim, live or die, we stand by them, and are fighting for them this day. That is the ground of our fight—it is well that all should understand it at once. Thousands and tens of thousands of the bravest men, and the best blood of this State, fighting in the ranks, have left their bones whitening on the bleak hills of Virginia in this cause. We are fighting for our system of civilization—not for buncomb, or for Jeff Davis. We intend to fight for that, or nothing. We expect Virginia to stand beside us in that fight, as of old, as we have stood beside her in this war up to this time. But such talk coming from such a source is destructive to the cause. Let it cease at once, in God’s name, and in behalf of our common cause! It is paralizing to every man here to hear it. It throws a pall over the hearts of the soldiers from this State to hear it. The soldiers of South Carolina will not fight beside a nigger’ to talk of emancipation is to disband our army. We are free men, and we chose to fight for ourselves—we want no slaves to fight for us.... Hack at the root of the Confederacy—our institutions—our civilization—and you kill the cause as dead as a boiled crab.

So....there you go. Not enough, you say? Stick around - there is much much much more to come.



Thursday, March 3, 2011

UVAs Finest Hour - Confederate Battle Flag Beer Pong

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Naturally, I am very disappointed by the goings on at my alma mater. I think the University of Virginia is a first-rate school...but I also think some of the students there are knotheads - or at least lack any sense of what is or is not appropriate.

Thanks to my Twitter friend, @EmilyHill_Indie for the heads up on this one. From what I can tell, some UVA law students enjoy the moments away from their rigorous course work to play a little drinking game...set up on a table emblazoned with the Confederate Battle Flag. According to reports and comments on this event, no one is sure as to whether or not it was law students or fraternity boys playing this game and then imbibing the "rebellious" adult beverages. I don't think it really matters.

It just seems to me that those who attend a University with more than its share of racist baggage (I have heard of frat members hiring local black children to pick "cotton" in front of their houses during rush week and black-face performances at fraternity parties) should think carefully before dragging out Confederate symbols.

You know boys, that flag is profoundly offensive to a great many people in this country. So put it away. Show a little sensitivity. Besides - aren't finals coming up or something? Don't you have a paper due? Why are you playing beer pong anyway?



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Confederates Are Not Nazis

[caption id="attachment_721" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Lee and his generals. Traitors yes - Nazis no. "][/caption]

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Did you ever think that you would see the day when I would defend Confederates? Well...this is not so much a defense as a clarification. Nothing drives me more crazy  than when people flippantly compare Confederates to Nazis. Seriously - it happens all the time...and by people respected in their fields. I suppose understand when people want to make the worst possible connection to a nation founded to preserve slavery - it's just bad history.

For example - Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP and a man for whom I hold a great deal of respect and admiration...not to mention, have shared a few meals with - (he is an excellent and most fascinating dinner companion) has missed the mark in the Confederate/Nazi regard. Having publicly referred to the Confederate flag as a "Swastika" he explicitly connected the governments. The two are not even close.

Many others have made similar comparisons...suggesting that the Confederacy was akin to Nazi Germany due solely to the southern nation's racial policies. Authors such as Peter Kalajian, to site just one example, claim that both societies stood for hate, oppression, wanton murder, and destruction.

Not so fast. Now no one would ever accuse me of standing up for the Rebels, but let's get a couple of things clear. One - the southern states seceded to protect slavery. Two - this, as I see it, was treason. Period. But they were not Nazis. They did not resemble Nazis in any way, shape, or form.

The Confederate States of America was a democratic republic, with a Constitution and a representative government run by elected officials held accountable for their actions. It was a slave holding republic to be sure - just like the United States of America from 1776 to 1865. Just like it. The significant difference - the CSA was a little more clear on the whole "permanence of slavery" thing.

[caption id="attachment_722" align="alignright" width="165" caption="New Georgia state flag proposed by the editorial staff of The Onion - ok, I have to admit....this made me laugh. "][/caption]

Yes I know...whenever a bunch of white supremacist a-holes get together they trot out all kinds of symbols - including the Swastika and the Confederate flag. But what do these guys know? I am not sure that any of them could give you much information on either of the governments they are supposedly representing.

So next time you hear some one make the tenuous comparison between a 19th century democracy and a 20th century Fascist dictatorship - just roll your eyes. Or better yet - ask them to clarify. Exactly how are the two related???



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mysteries Abound - Whatever Happened to the Body of Confederate General Richard B. Garnett?

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Well, it seems we have a bit of a mystery on our hands. Those of us who are captivated by the Battle of Gettysburg story know that Confederate general Richard B. Garnett was killed in the battle.

Garnett, as you probably know, was a brigade commander in George Pickett's division...and led his troops in the ill-fated Pickett-Pettigrew Assault on July 3rd, 1863. There are a couple of eye-witness accounts of how he was killed.

Apparently, Garnett got within about twenty feet of the famous "angle" on Cemetery Ridge where he was shot in the head while waving his men forward with his hat. Soon after, his courier's horse was also hit and fell on the dead general's body. The courier in question, one Robert Irvine, pulled Garnett's body from under the horse, and managed to retrieve his watch before moving on. This wasn't shady or anything, later Irvine gave the watch to the brigade adjutant - or that's at least how the story goes...

Now this is where things get sort of cloudy. First, there are conflicting reports as to whether or not the general's horse made it back to the Rebel lines. Second, and more important, Garnett's body was never recovered. More than likely, he was buried in a mass grave along with his men.

Which means we have a very probable resting place for Richard Garnett. In the early 1870s, Ladies' Memorial Assocaitions were instrumental in reinterring the Confederate dead of Gettysburg in Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery. Bodies were removed from mass graves and brought south (for a fee) where they would have a proper - Confederate - burial.

So many, including military historian Robert Krick,  believe that Garnett is there. Probably, but we cannot be certain. In 1991, the Hollywood Memorial Association just flat out assumed he was there and erected a cenotaph in his honor. Nothing else has ever surfaced concerning Garnett, with one notable exception. Soon after the war, his sword turned up in a Baltimore pawn shop...where it was purchased by former Confederate general George H. Steuart.

So there you have it - mystery not (entirely) solved.