Saturday, November 27, 2010

An Attempt to Educate

In my previous posting, I highlighted a booklet that I recently purchased titled Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Convention Of The Oklahoma State Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (1932). The Proceedings notes the culmination of a project to fund and then give the “Confederate Museum” in Richmond, Virginia, a portrait of Stand Watie. This was accomplished at a cost of $168.48; the artist, Rev. Gregory Gerrer, was a monk at the St. Gregory’s Abbey in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Gerrer was a rather well known artist at the time, and you may read more about him by clicking the link on his name. Mrs. Lutie H. Walcott reported that the portrait was placed in the “Solid South” room and she stated “I think Oklahoma has done one big thing [,] for the eyes of some of [the] other states have been opened at last to what Indian Territory stood for during the war between the states.” Admittedly, I would like to know what she thought “Indian Territory stood for” during the conflict, but it is obvious these women were attempting to educate others about the war in the trans-Mississippi. The process still continues ladies!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Bookstore Find

While perusing the Gardner’s Used Books and Music store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, yesterday, I happened across a booklet titled Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Convention Of The Oklahoma State Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (1932). Intrigued, I purchased the item for an amazingly low price of $1.95. The Proceedings includes reports from many chapters and lists the officers for the 37 United Daughters of the Confederacy chapters in Oklahoma. Of particular interest to me were items relating to the U. D. C. chapters in Shawnee (where I grew up), in Pryor (where I live now), and Elk City (where my great-grandparents were living). After purchasing it, I discovered that my great-grandmother was listed as the chaplain for the chapter in Elk City. What a surprise to purchase an item that listed one of my ancestors!

The Proceedings mentions a number of projects that these ladies were involved in including some that related to remembering the war in the trans-Mississippi.

For example, Mrs. Helen Mann Gorman, the Oklahoma Division president, wrote a letter to the Division Presidents in Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas that read in part:

“’I had the good fortune to visit the battlefield of Pea Ridge or Elk Horn Tavern—as my father who participated in that battle—always called it. The particular plot where stands the monuments to Generals McColloch [sic] and McIntosh was in a rather neglected condition. The thought came to me would it not be well at some future time for the Divisions of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma to form an association to see that this historic battlefield is well marked and given perpetual care. Every thing has to have a beginning and perhaps the consumation [sic] of this dream would not be realized in our administrations, but we could sow the tiny seed and the ‘harvest would come later.’”

Did the U.D.C. play an active role in the preservation of the Pea Ridge battlefield? If anyone has the answer, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Blogger's Audience

Although I have been writing this blog since July 2009, I still don’t feel like an experienced blogger. As an example, Blogspot collects certain information about my blog that is available to me, but I only recently clicked on a mysterious tab labeled “Stats.” When I clicked on it I discovered that Blogspot has been collecting various statistics relating to my blog since May 2010. Now, I regard myself as a fairly humble person, and so I was greatly surprised to learn that my blog has had 5,146 page views since May. Because of the specific nature of my blog, I'm assuming that 5,146 page views represents a rather small audience in the world of blogging. Interestingly though, I may have reached more people through my blog postings than as a result of my published books and journal articles. Another surprise (to me anyway) is the geographical location of my readers. Here are the top five countries where page views have originated from since May:

United States: 3,980 page views
United Kingdom: 175 page views
Russia: 158 page views
Germany: 137 page views
Taiwan: 73 page views

I expected that American readers would dominate my audience, but why am I getting readers from Russia? And why is it that twelve readers from Slovenia have checked out my blog this month? What about the one reader from Norway and the one reader from Hungary today? If you are a reader from somewhere other than the United States, I invite you to leave comments. Admittedly, I'm curious as to why this blog has attracted a small international following.

The statistics section also noted the blog postings that had the most page views with the top four being:

An Iowan Discusses Marching, 15 April 2010
Mr. Catton of Michigan, 1 August 2010
The Importance of Guerrilla Warfare, 25 March 2010
Flags of Confederate Trans-Mississippi Units, 6 March 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Off to War!

Lately, I have been perusing Michael E. Banasik, ed., Missouri in 1861: The Civil War Letters of Franc B. Wilkie, Newspaper Correspondent (Iowa City: Camp Pope Bookshop, 2001) that is part of the Camp Pope Bookshop’s Unwritten Chapters of the Civil War West of the River series. Franc B. Wilkie, an accomplished journalist, traveled south to Missouri with the Washington Guards and the Governor’s Greys, two militia companies from Dubuque, Iowa. While cruising down the Mississippi River in April 1861, Wilkie reported on the humorous behavior of these Iowans:

“The Greys took their stations on one side of the cabin, the Guards the other….Profound silence soon covered the whole boat, till suddenly some ‘rough’ on the floor gave a tremendous ‘Baa!’ Another at the other end responded, then the chorus was taken up in all parts, and in three seconds the whole crowd was Baa-ing with the force of a thousand calf-power. So it went till day-light. There were cat voices, sheep voices, and coon voices. There were goslings and crowings. There were fellows there who could beat any jackass on a bray, and give him fifty. In short there were more noises than ever were made or ever will be again, unless all jackasses, mules, gobblers, roosters, cats, coons, and cattle in creation are assembled for a grand concert. Nobody slept; some laughed a little, others swore a great deal, and thus wore away the night” (p. 9).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"My feelings are too bitter."

The recent elections caused me to wonder what soldiers said about political events during the war, and I recalled some passages from letters that I edited several years ago. The quotes below are taken from Johansson, M. Jane, ed. Widows by the Thousand: The Civil War Letters of Theophilus and Harriet Perry, 1862-1864 (Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 2000), 147-148.

On 12 July 1863, 1st Lieutenant Theophilus Perry of the 28th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) sat in camp in Delhi, Louisiana, exhausted from a difficult campaign as his regiment, a part of Walker’s Texas division, had marched extensively on the west side of the Mississippi during the Vicksburg campaign. Less than a week before penning a letter to his wife, Perry suddenly became commander of his company when its Captain shot himself. But his words do not refer directly to the outcome of the Vicksburg campaign, nor his new position, but instead they refer to his reaction to the attitude of the people on the home front and to politicians.

Perry felt particular outrage toward men “who once violently talked of whipping the reluctant youths of the land off to the War, and who themselves have ignobly speculated upon the necessities of the soldier and his family, accumulated fortunes out of the sacrifice of those that have bared their bosons to the bayonet, and yet sculk away from danger themselves. I deplore the necessity for a draft, but cannot help feeling some degree of satisfaction to hear that such characters have stood the draft. The universal sentiment of the army condemns them. They have subjected themselves to the scorn of all true men. They are arrent hypocrits….They have a holy horror at the soldier going home. They have objection to the soldier being elected to civil positions….They think it presumptious for the soldier to try to influence the administration of government at home. We despise such sentiment….”

As he wrote, he reflected on the upcoming elections of 1863:

“We hear that the noisey men there desire less for the war. We despise their professions. We are against Murrah for Governor. He is a cheat. We are against Bob Haysey and Isaac Johnson. We vote for Parker who is a miserable skinflint and numskull, in order to beat the others and because he is over fifty. We are against all of the white livered ____sors [ink smeared]. But I desist. My feelings are too bitter. I sometimes feel condemned. I flame up to a great heat when I talk about these base demagogues and hypocrits.”