Thursday, January 31, 2019

Ancestors in the War

In a recent spate of deeper interest in my family past, and in conjunction with a sale on Ancestry for their DNA test, I have been doing some digging into my potential Civil War ancestors.  I have found a few, either an uncle or a short bit of service.  Not to take away from those men, but I was hoping for something a bit more "exciting."

David Christian Smith, my fourth great uncle, served a total of five weeks in Company B, 13th Ohio Infantry, in their three month configuration.  Not sure why he didn't finish his term, as he lived a long life.

Jacob Cooper, my 3rd great grandfather, served in Company G, 133rd Ohio Infantry, which was a "hundred days" regiment, raised to serve in the rear areas in 1864 which would allow other three year regiments to join the fighting.  The 133rd, and perhaps Jacob Cooper, went to Bermuda Hundred, where they built trenches, then onto Fort Powhatan, where they repaired telegraph lines.  They also built a magazine and an 80 foot tall signal tower.  Important work for certain, but not as sexy as a unit on campaign and in battle.

With a bit more digging, I found a connection to the 12th Ohio.  I am about 95% certain that Jacob C. Weikel, my great great grandfather, actively served in the 12th, and then spent a month in the 23rd Ohio.  The 12th was part of the Kanawha Brigade, later division, and served mostly in (West) Virginia.  Involved at Carnifex Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Cloyd's Mountain, and several smaller engagements, the 12th had a solid reputation, even though its first colonel, John Lowe, had a bit of a death wish based on his performance at Scary Creek, and he took a shot to the forehead in the 12th's opening movements at Carnifex.  

Jacob apparently enlisted in the 12th on June 25th, 1861 at the age of eighteen.  He served his three years with Company I of the 12th before being transferred to Company K, 23rd Ohio on July 1st, 1864.  He mustered out with the 23rd on July 24th at Winchester, Virginia.  According to the official roster of the 12th, he was made corporal November 24th, 1862, and made sergeant April 1st, 1864.  

At Antietam, according to the regimental monument:

This Regiment advanced to this place on the afternoon of September 17, 1862. It moved from extreme left of Union line of battle exposed to a severe flank fire and held their position the remainder of the day. Its loss was 17 men killed and 25 men wounded, total 33.

And according to the War Department tablet  for Ewing's Brigade:

On the evening of September 16th, Ewing’s Brigade formed line under cover of the ridge east of the Antietam, and southeast of the Burnside Bridge. On the morning of the 17th it followed the left bank of the Antietam to Snavely’s Ford where it crossed and moving up the right bank of the stream until nearly abreast the bridge, advanced in support of Rodman’s Division over the hills and ravines to this point where it met and temporarily checked the advance of A.P. Hill’s Division. Its left having been turned by the enemy, it fell back to the cover of the rolling ground east of this tablet.

At this time I do not know if Jacob was present at Antietam, or any other battle that the 12th took part in, but based on the fact he did serve three years with the regiment and was mustered out with the 23rd in Virginia, that would indicate that he was actively involved with the regiment most of the war.

So perhaps I have a "sexy" story after all!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

William McKinley and Cynthiana?

William McKinley
Today is the birth date of President William McKinley.  Of course many of us know he served in the 23rd Ohio, along with Rutherford B. Hayes, during the Civil War.  But very few know that McKinley has a connection to Cynthiana.  In the 171st Ohio, which fought at Keller's Bridge on June 11th, 1864 was one Joseph Osborne.  On that fateful day, among the handful of Union killed at Keller's Bridge, was Osborne.  Joseph Albert Osborne was the cousin of McKinley, and was a few weeks shy of his 24th birthday when he was killed.  

And now you know McKinley's tie to Cynthiana!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Kentucky Campaign of 1862 and Battle of Perryville - Dr. Kenneth Hafendorfer

The following is a guest post submitted by Andy Papen.

When I first heard that Dr. Kenneth Hafendorfer had written a two volume treatise entitled The Kentucky Campaign of 1862 and Battle of Perryville, I was both intrigued and wary.   It was, to say the least, pricey.  Because of the price, I was somewhat hesitant to buy it as I didn't want to spend that amount of money on a book that was maybe just an expansion of his earlier book on Perryville.  That earlier book was one of my introductions to Perryville and the Kentucky Campaign, but it had its flaws and is, in my opinion, the weakest of his several books.  After hearing some good things about the new book, though, I went ahead and took the plunge.  Well, I just finished it, and I'm really glad I bought it.
It's self published, just like Hafendorfer's other books.  Self-published books are, for me as probably for most of us, a mixed bag.  Some are really, really good; others are, well, I see why no one would publish them.  These two volumes are so long, and contain so much detail, that I can understand why a publisher wouldn't do this set without significantly shortening it.  Personally, I'm glad that this one was self-published; I think I would have liked a shorter version a lot less.  This amount of massive detail isn't for everyone, but for "niche" readers like me, I much preferred it the way it is.  I can see both sides of the argument, and will come back to this question at the end of this post.

I've long been a Kentucky Campaign nerd; I've read pretty much everything that's out there and have visited several sites extensively.  However, I'm far from an expert, and I'm certainly not going to attempt a full review here; there are others far more qualified to do that than me.   I will, however, present a few thoughts on this lengthy study. 
Lengthy may not be the most accurate description.  Massive may well be more accurate!  These books are huge.  A word of advice; don't drop either of them, especially Volume II, on your foot or you will end up in the ER!  Here are a few stats on the books.  A total of 1,390 pages (537 in Volume I and 853 in Volume II).   The battle of Perryville itself (October 8, 1862) gets 461 pages.  175 maps, 78 on the Perryville battle alone.  The Perryville battle maps are generally in fifteen minute to half-hour increments, although there are some variances.  Obviously, we cannot complain about a scarcity of maps in these books.  I found the maps to be very good for the most part.  Again, if there are inaccuracies in the maps, I am not aware of them.  I also found the maps very tied to the text.  One of my pet peeves in campaign or battle studies is when activities described in the text never show up on the relevant map; that's not a problem here.   In addition, the bibliography takes up 43 pages, and the endnotes total 99 pages for Volume I and 115 for Volume II.

I felt the real strength of these books was the coverage of the campaign up to Perryville.  I hadn't read this much detail of the movements of Buell's and Bragg's armies in any other study of the Kentucky Campaign.  Plus, we get daily maps showing the movements from Chattanooga and North Alabama; I found that really helpful and informative.  We get detailed daily movements of each component of each army:  how far each marched and where they camped for the night.  Similarly, the movements out of Kentucky by each army get significant coverage.  Dog Walk, for example, gets about 8 pages and a map.  As a long time enthusiast of Jones Withers' division, I appreciated the amount of pages on Dog Walk!
Perryville itself gets massive coverage (461 pages and 78 maps worth….).  One thing that I found interesting, and useful, was that the author was very specific in the endnotes where he differed from Dr. Kenneth Noe's book Perryville:  This Grand Havoc of Battle and also when he differed from his own earlier Perryville book.  Serious Perryville students are probably going to have some areas on which to quibble with some of his interpretations, but isn't that why we study these topics so intensely?  I didn't agree with all of the battle interpretations either, but the author makes his case, and it's up to us as to whether or not that case is made adequately.  For example, he makes reference to the stone wall defended by Starkweather's brigade, called the high-water mark of the Confederacy in the western theatre by Noe, and states in an endnote that he has found no period reference that documents a stone wall in that position.  Hmmm…  Other more familiar with Perryville than me can start weighing in!
The author also dedicated several chapters to events somewhat peripheral, but certainly related to, the actual Kentucky Campaign.  There are chapters covering Iuka and Corinth, but these are in much less detail than the rest of the book.  The "organization" of the books is very similar to the author's earlier work They Died by Twos and Tens:  The Confederate Cavalry in the Kentucky Campaign of 1862.  In fact, I felt that the two volume set was much more a huge expansion of Twos and Tens rather than an upgrade of his earlier Perryville volume.  The actions of the Confederate retreat from Kentucky are well covered, as is Buell's "pursuit".  The final chapter contains some analysis of the campaign, and the author feels that the campaign was more positive for the Confederacy than negative.  I certainly agree with that conclusion.

The bibliography is extensive, and contains mostly primary sources.  I look at the endnotes/footnotes in books, and I saw that the vast majority of the citations come from primary sources, which was good.  I did notice one odd omission in the bibliography, though.  Various manuscript collections are listed, but I did not see a listing for the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site itself.  I thought that a curious omission, and I hope that it simply was left out by accident.  I can't imagine doing any work on Perryville and not consulting the park's holdings.   Perhaps I missed it, as the formatting of the manuscript collections consulted is a little odd.
Now, to what I didn't like…..

There were a lot of typos.  More than a lot.  An alarming amount.  So many, in fact, that it became a distraction.  Remember when I said earlier that I was, to some extent, glad that it was self published?  Well, here is where I wish a publisher had been involved, as this thing really needed a professional editor.  Look, we've all seen typos in books published by well known and excellent publishers, but not this many.  I am currently proofreading/editing a manuscript for another author and on many instances while reading these Kentucky Campaign books, wished that I could have gotten my hands on these before publication, as so many of these typos would have been easy to find and correct.  Besides the obvious ones such as incorrect punctuation, missing words, and misspellings, some were just annoying.  For example, Union brigade commander Milo Hascall's name is almost always misspelled "Haskell".  The author cited the diary of Tennessee Captain Alfred Fielder extensively, but almost always spelled his name "Fiedler" in the text.  There were more like this, but I think you see my point.
Also, the entire index was included at the end of Volume II; there was no index included in Volume I.  (Volume I did have its own endnotes)   Granted, that's more of an inconvenience than a problem, but with books this size,  I would have liked to have had an index for each volume.  While reading Volume I, it was a little unhandy to have to get Volume II out just to look up something in the index.   In addition, the index was far from complete.  There were many references to people, places, etc. that were not included in the index.  That was more of a problem, for me anyway, than only having the index in the second volume. 

Shortcomings aside, if you're a serious student of the 1862 Kentucky Campaign, Perryville or, for that matter, the War in the Western Theatre, then this is something you might want to pick up.  It's very limited; only 108 copies (8 leather bound and the remaining 100 in hardcover).  It was pricey when bought new; I don't want to think about the eventual price on the secondary market; might have to store these in my bank box.  I have #55, so more than half of them have already sold.  With the amount of information presented, I wish there were more copies as I think this is a set that others besides a few serious students/nerds like me or a few book collectors should own.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Round Table Thoughts

Every now and again I get a burr on my backside when I think about Civil War Round Tables.  Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it an aggravation, caused by an inability to understand why many Round Tables have short-sighted vision, an inability to understand why they do not grow when they go through the same motions year after year and watch their membership age and become smaller in size.  Conversely there are those Round Tables who seem to understand a changing world and embrace any and all ideas to increase awareness, which in turn increases membership, which in turn increases the Round Table's ability to bring in more known speakers and complete larger preservation projects.  Wouldn't that be the ultimate goal, to have such a large membership that the preservation impact would be that much greater?  To add youth to ensure sustainability as the current leadership ages and, realistically to say, passes on?  What are they doing to pass the torch, to become a more viable partner in the Civil War community, because let's be honest, Round Tables have the ability to become great community partners through their programs, tours, and preservation programs, working with local historical sites, and helping to increase tourism.

Wait a second, Darryl, I didn't sign up for this.  Community involvement?  I just want to go to the meetings and hear a speaker.  You can take your community involvement and....

Ask yourself why do you go to Round Table meetings?  To learn?  To share?  To spend time with like-minded folks?  Most likely all of those reasons drive your participation.  You obviously have a strong interest in the American Civil War, as do your fellow attendees, otherwise you wouldn't pay the membership fee and in some cases a meeting or meal fee.  But what about the public you've never met, who do not know your Round Table exists, or has an impression that your Round Table is exclusive (white men), stuffy, OLD?  

Darryl, you're nuts.  Young people do not want to be involved, they do not care about our history, they won't join a Round Table.  And women, no way we can get more women members.

Really?  Let's do a little case study, using Facebook and its ability to create targeted ads based on location, interest, age, and even sex.

I live in Cincinnati.  Within twenty-five miles of my local Round Table there are thousands of Facebook users who have taken the time to add "American Civil War" as an interest.  Let's see how their demographics break down, shall we?

Let's start with the overarching number:  210,000.  Yep, 210,000 Facebook users within a twenty-five mile radius of the Round Table's meeting location have taken the time to list American Civil War as an interest.  

Well, okay, I find that number to be crazy high...I had no idea that many people on Facebook are interested in the Civil War, but no way those folks are youngsters.  The youth do not care....

Wanna bet?  Of those 210,000 users, 73,000 are forty years old, or younger.  And 38,000 of those 73,000 are 30 or under.  So much for your premise that the youth do not care or are not interested in history.  You just are not reaching them.

Um, but, well, I bet they are all men!

Let's go back to that 210,000 number.  Of that total 100,000 are women, or nearly half.  What else you got for me?

Well, they won't come to meetings and listen to speakers.  They won't join.

Here is where you need to flip the script.  Your Round Table has built a speaker program, has a bit of a treasury to work with, holds eight to a dozen meetings per year.  What more should you do to increase membership when you are already doing that?  But I also ask, if you are doing that, and not growing, are you not open to try new ideas?

Let's go back to my local Round Table.  When I was active I pushed for events beyond our normal meeting schedule (eight times a year, and not during the summer).  The first event I organized was a tour of a local site, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House.  I was told by certain board members that people would not show up, especially as I had scheduled this event on the first Saturday of December, a month that is apparently taboo to the Round Table.  I used Facebook to create an ad, spent maybe ten bucks on same, and asked the Stowe House to help promote the event as it was open to all.  We simply asked for attendees to donate a few bucks to the house.  We had thirty-five attendees, fifteen of whom were locals of various ages.  This was after I was told that our members would not show, after I was told that our members do not like extra events, especially in December.  After the tour several of us (nearly all non-members) went to a local pizza and beer joint, and we carried on the conversations a Round Table should.

By using Facebook we increased our membership by over ten percent in one year.  Now the local Round Table only carries around 100 members, but to climb to 115 was a shock to the board as they had not seen that number in decades.  We simply added our events to the calendar, and added a couple of events that were not meetings that would held on different days of the week.  We posted regularly on the page, we shared, and that led to increased membership.  Alas, many of the other ideas I wanted to implement were frowned upon, and in turn they lost one of their most active volunteers.  But the case study proves that using something as simple as Facebook can yield increased membership.  And we could have increased our membership even more....

Meetings.  Arrgh.  The bane of the Round Table growth.  What are you talking about, Darryl?  Meetings at at the core of what we do!  Wonder why you do not have younger attendees at your meetings?  Because that meeting schedule (usually a set weeknight once a month) does not lend itself well to adding younger members, particularly those with children who participate in activities.  Yeah, that's right, Darryl.  They are too busy to come join.  Told you!  Short-sighted I say.  Why are you asking a busy younger couple to adhere to your Round Table's schedule instead of, wait for it, offering more events on different days that cater to their schedule?  Let's face it, we might get a lot of folks liking our Facebook page (if we have one), but how many are actually members?  Not many.  So, that shows that people care, are interested, but it is not converting to increased membership.  Why not?  Because your meeting date doesn't work for them and hence they have no reason to join!  Offer more events for these folks to attend, and you'll start to see faces you never knew existed, and the more they can do these events that fit their schedule the more likely they will be to join your Round Table.

Case in point.  Recently the local Round Table held a two day tour around our city.  We posted on Facebook, opened it to the public, and we had over forty attendees, half of whom were not members.  Wanna talk about recruitment opportunities?  We had pamphlets to hand out, shook hands, talked to the non-members.  Now, many did not join, but a few did, and just think if we could offer more events on different days of the week and increase the number of new faces we would have an opportunity to meet.

Okay, back to meetings.  Most Round Tables hold a business meeting (boring and often too long).  Keep the business portion short and sweet.  Touch on the important topics and let the members know that additional details are on the website, in the newsletter, on the Facebook page.  Drive them to use these resources outside the meeting, and then use the extra time for more meet and greet with the speaker, more social time, more interaction.

Well, Darryl, that is all fine and dandy, but we do not have enough people to do extra events.

Yep, you don't, because of the old 10% rule...about 10% of your membership will be active.  If you only have 50 members, then you have about five people driving the bus.  But what can you do now to increase membership?  First of all, if you have a website, UPDATE IT!  There are so many Round Table websites that show meeting dates from last year or longer.  Don't have a website?  Create one, or as a free alternative, create a Facebook page.  It is fairly simple...heck, I'll even help you set one up, gratis!  Get the word out.  Contact the local chamber of commerce, tourism department, newspaper, want ads, Craigslist, etc., etc.  If you can slowly add a few new members, you will increase the number of volunteers that can help add events to your traditional meeting schedule.

And on the topic of volunteers, NEVER turn them away!  Find a way to spark and sustain their passion.  Even if their desire is different than what you think is the norm, work to incorporate them into being a leader for you.  If I am simply wanting to be in charge of providing cookies for the meetings, and you've never done that before, then let me do it.  I may turn into a person who one day will take an officer position and do even more.

Darryl, I live in rural (insert town here), not a major city like you...this won't work!

I disagree.  Send me the name of your town, and I bet we can find people on Facebook within 25 miles who are interested in the Civil War.  Jefferson City, Missouri?  27,000 people.  Dover, Tennessee?  30,000 people.  Lebanon, Kansas?  2,000 people.  Make it happen, people!  Get your Round Table moving forward, increase your impact, grow your membership, get online, stay fresh!  And if you put an email address out there for contact, respond in a timely manner!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Booking for 2019

After a fairly eventful 2018 speaking and tour schedule, I am starting to get some dates booked for 2019 as well.  This year will see three different presentations being offered, The Summer Raid and First Battle of Cynthiana, The Last Raid and the Second Battles of Cynthiana, and the Battle of Augusta.  Thus far there are tentative agreements for Northern Kentucky History Day in March, speaking to the Madison County (KY) Civil War Round Table, and maybe the local Sons of Union Veterans.  I also have two tours in place, one being Augusta in April, thew other with the American Battlefield Trust at the end of May, and perhaps another tour later this fall (Battle of Richmond as part of the Kentucky Campaign).

I also am planning a few Civil War trips, the usual Chickamauga March adventure, Shiloh in May, and perhaps some early war battles in (West) Virginia in the fall.

If you are interested in a talk (typically within two hours of Cincinnati), or a tour, just send an email and we will cater something for you or your group.


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