Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Abolitionists

While watching the Abolitionists on The American Experience, I am reflecting on an episode that occurred when I was doing research:

I was in the public library in Augusta, Georgia, twelve years ago or so, and I was reading old newspapers on the microfilm. I had been in so many archives and libraries in those weeks and months that I had become quite adept at quickly threading the film.

Beside me, a black woman and her daughter, a fourth-grader as I recall, struggled with the finicky machine and she glanced my way and asked if I could show her how to operate it. We made small talk; the little girl was working on a class project.

I turned back to my work, hoping they would not glance over and look at the screen. I was scanning the papers from 1865 for advertisements of slave sales and there it was--"Prime Field Hands," it proclaimed, "Auction." The date was April 19, 1865, ten days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, more than two years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Other slaves were listed in the ad, including a 7-year-old girl.

The little girl and her mother were inches away from me. I choked. I wanted to sob. I kept glancing at this pretty, neat, impatient little girl and her mother, a good mother, bringing her child to the library to work on a school project.

It was incomprehensible. How could there be a time that this child could have been torn from her mother's arms and sold for money?

We exchanged looks, smiles, as the mother directed her little girl to search out the information she needed. I quickly made copies and rewound the microfilm. Maybe there was more on the reel, but I didn't want to see it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Book Launch--Feb. 28

Michelle and I want to invite you to the launch party for Kansas Forts and Bases: Sentinels on the Prairie which will occur at the regular meeting of the Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Kansas, Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m. Michelle and I will speak and then we'll sell, sign and party!!! The CWRT meets each month in the Cox Communications Heritage Education Center, 1118 SE Madison, Topeka.  The meetins are always free and membership, only $15 a year, is encouraged. Come join us! The book retails for $19.99 and we can't wait to share it with you. Thanks so much to Becky Lejeune and the staff at the History Press for such a great job.
We are so proud that retired Col. Jerry Morelock, editor of Armchair General Magazine, wrote the foreword. We cannot thank him enough.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jammin' for Dan

The Joel Edison original guitar that will be raffled at the Jam4Dan this weekend made its debut in the Bisel living room during Borderline practice. Dave Houser (left) vouched for the quality sound of this fine instrument. Joel Edison (right), master instrument builder, spends many months building a fine instrument which he donates to the cause of honoring the late Dan Falley and raising money for music scholarships in Topeka. He will sit in with Borderline tonight at the Celtic Fox on W 8th Street. Borderline is on at 7, but there are great groups all weekend. Come join us for a good time and a good cause.
 This is the SIXTH Jam4Dan. Visit the website to learn more, but most importantly, just come on down and join us!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Looking Back

Stumbled across this image today and just decided to share it, especially in light of the fact that Ken Spurgeon is hard at work on the third of his trilogy on the Border War, Road to Valhalla. Ken is on the left, back row, along with Nathan Miller and Jon Goering; front, Drew Gomber and  Fred Chiaventone (with the ever-present coffee cup). I, of course, am smack-dab in the middle. Looking forward to this new project!

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Today is the birthday of John P. Hatch. . . .

John P. Hatch, in all honesty, is not one of my favorite people. As part of the occupying army in the South following the war, he was rather arrogant. Nonetheless, I found this on the Arlington Cemetery site: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/jphatch.htm

It's very interesting and worth the read.
Served in the Mexican, Indian, and Civil Wars
A Descendant of Major Porter, An Aide de Camp on Benedict Arnold’s Staff
NEW YORK, New York, April 14, 1901 – Brevet Brigadier General John Porter Hatch died at his home, 202 West One Hundred and Third Street, late Friday night. He had suffered for some time from heart disease. He retired early in the evening and was found dead in bed about 11 o’clock. General Hatch was born in Oswego, New York, January 8, 1822, and was a descendant of Major Moses Porter, aide-de-camp on the staff of General Benedict Arnold at the battle of Saratoga. His ancestors came to this country in 1634. General Hatch was graduated at the West Point Academy and was appointed a Lieutenant in the Third United States Infantry July 1, 1845. He reported for duty with his regiment at Corpus Christi, under General Taylor, in October of that year, and engaged in the battle of Palo Alto. He was one of the only two surviving officers of Palo Alto, the other being General Lawrence V. Graham of Washington. He took part in every important battle of the Mexican War, and especially distinguished himself at Vera Cruz and in fighting before the City of Mexico, being brevetted three times for gallantry. At the close of the Mexican War he was assigned to duty in New Mexico, in 1857 was sent against the Apache Indians and in the next year against the Navajos. This campaign was distinguished for being the first in which the Navajos had ever used rifles, their weapons before having always been bows and arrows and tomahawks. In 1859, with twenty-five men, General Hatch escorted the Governor of Missouri from New Mexico, where he was visiting, back to Missouri, there way lying through the country of the hostile Comanches, who were then fighting the Government. At the outbreak of the Civil War General Hatch was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers and commanded a brigade in the first battle of Bull Run. Subsequently he commanded a division in General Banks’ army and went with him through the Shenandoah Valley. General “Stonewall”Jackson, the famous Confederate leader, in several of his works, has given credit to General Hatch for saving Banks’ corps from annihilation on this expedition. At the second battle of Bull Run General Hatch led a charge against the railroad embankment behind which were a large force of Confederates, and was shot in the head, but recovered. At the battle of South Mountain, Maryland, September 14, 1862, where he commanded a division, he was shot in the leg after leading his own soldiers, and for his gallantry was awarded a gold medal by Congress. This wound compelled his retirement from active service for five months and after that he did court-martial work in connection with recruiting until 1864, when he was assigned to the Army of the South. He took part in the operations against Charlestown and with his division occupied this city after its fall. He cooperated with General Sherman in his march to the sea, having charge of what was known as the Coast Guard, a division of the Army that covered the extreme eastern flank of Sherman’s army. From that time on until the end of the war he served with Sherman, when he was sent first to Texas and then to Montana having charge of several different Government posts and engaging in a number of fights with Indians. He was retired under the age limit in 1886 and for the last ten years has lived in this city. He leaves a widow, a son, Mark B. Hatch of Washington and an unmarried daughter, who has lived with her parents. General Hatch was a member of the Foreign War Society, the Aztec Club of ’47, an association formed by the officers at the time of the occupancy of the city of Mexico, and was once President of the club. He was also a member of the Army of the Potomac Society, the Loyal Legion and Lafayette Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. His body, according to present arrangements, will be taken to Washington tomorrow and there interred in Arlington Cemetery.