Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Henry Rifle and the Battle of Prairie Grove

The Battle of Prairie Grove was fought 155 years ago today, and one of the participants was Major Albert C. Ellithorpe of the First Indian Home Guards. His regiment consisted primarily of refugee Seminoles and Muscogee Creeks from the Indian Territory and were part of James G. Blunt’s Kansas Division. This division arrived on the battlefield after soldiers from Francis J. Herron’s division had launched several bloody and futile attacks on Confederates from Thomas C. Hindman’s army. Ellithorpe’s regiment gave a “war yell” after positioning itself to the right of Herron’s Twentieth Iowa Infantry, and then the two regiments advanced toward the enemy. Ellithorpe had purchased a Henry rifle earlier in the year. This repeater had a sixteen-shot magazine and fired a .44 caliber bullet. Ellithorpe proudly wrote a month after the battle that, “my ‘Henry’ has done its work well I emptied 32 shots from it at the Battle of ‘Prarie Grove’ at a very short range. I think the gun has done good service.” The Major was so taken with the weapon that he asked for permission “to raise a battalion of sharpshooters” that would be equipped with the Henry rifle. For reasons unknown, his request was never granted. Were any other soldiers equipped with the Henry rifle at Prairie Grove? If any Henry bullets are ever excavated from the ground where the First Indian advanced, then they were probably fired by the redoubtable Major Ellithorpe.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Battle Flags of Minnesota

All of Minnesota's Civil War units, with the exception of the 1st Minnesota Infantry, served in either the Western Theater and/or in the trans-Mississippi. The Minnesota Historical Society is to be commended for creating a website that features photographs of surviving battle flags, short histories of each regiment and battery, and artifacts associated with different units. Conservation efforts are highlighted with a short three minute video. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Upcoming Presentation

This Thursday, I'll be speaking to the members and guests of the Civil War Roundtable of Central Louisiana on "A Constant School of Excitement: Albert C. Ellithorpe and the Border War." I'm looking forward to my trek into Louisiana and the opportunity to share information about the trans-Mississippi war to an interested audience!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

How Important Was the Trans-Mississippi?

Today,  I picked up the most recent issue of Civil War Times magazine from a Barnes & Noble store. As I've been arguing for several years, the trans-Mississippi theater was more significant than traditionally believed.

One of the "traditionalists" is the esteemed Civil War historian, Dr. Gary W. Gallagher, the Director of the John Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia. Author and editor of many books and a popular professor at The Great Courses Company, Dr. Gallagher "dismisses recent scholarship on the Civil War West and is most derisive of scholars working on histories of the Southwestern theater and the Pacific coast, arguing that the military, political, and social histories of these areas between 1861 and 1865 are irrelevant to Civil War history," according to Dr. Megan Kate Nelson. Her abridged column, "The Civil War West Mattered" is in the hot-off-the-press December 2017 issue of Civil War Times magazine. Dr. Nelson is best known for her well-received book, Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War but her latest, Path of the Dead Man: How the West was Won--and Lost--during the American Civil War, will be published in 2019. To read her unabridged column, go to the History Net website, which also has links to Dr. Gallagher's recent pieces relating to the West.

Friday, September 22, 2017

New York Battle Flags

It’s been several years since I’ve highlighted websites that feature the flags of the trans-Mississippi. Since that time some websites have been extensively updated and some new ones have appeared. This series will feature websites of trans-Mississippi State flag collections as well as websites that depict flags of regiments that served in the theater.

The New York Military Museum andVeterans Research Center has constructed a well-organized website with histories of every unit that served in the Civil War plus hundreds of photographs of New York flags. Many people don’t think of New York having much of a connection to the war west of the Mississippi, but soldiers of the 6th New York Infantry, the 114th New York Infantry, the 116th New York Infantry, and the 21st Independent Battery served in Louisiana for part of the conflict. The website is well worth checking out, and I noticed a couple of colorful posters for sale too.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Founders Award One More Time

On July 19, 2017, I attended a lovely banquet given by the American Civil War Museum to accept the Founders Award and to witness the presentation of the Jefferson Davis Award to Dr. Chandra Manning. Our certificates are quite unusual because the red wax seal was made by the original Great Seal of the Confederacy. We were told that the Great Seal was rarely used during the Civil War and has been used many more times on the certificates for the Founders and Jefferson Davis Awards. Dr. John Coski served as the master of ceremonies and shared some trivia with us about the awards. For example, my book has the longest title and is the first to deal with Indian troops. I have to confess that the title of my book is so lengthy that I sometimes can't remember all of it!

Recently, I've been planning some future postings and will be starting a series soon after a miscellaneous posting or two.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Founders Award

Recently, I learned that my book has been awarded the Founders Award! The news was a great surprise to me, and the following is the press release announcing it as well as the winner of the Jefferson Davis Award. 

The American Civil War Museum enjoys a legacy of 125 years through its predecessors, The Museum of the Confederacy and The American Civil War Center. During that time, the institutions have given and received numerous awards.
Book Awards
The American Civil War Museum is pleased to announce the results of its 2016 (47th annual) literary awards.
The recipient of the 2015-2016 Founders Award is Dr. M. Jane Johansson, professor of history at Rogers State University, for Albert C. Ellithorpe, the First Indian Home Guards, and the Civil War on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier, published by Louisiana State University Press. The judges praised the book both for its coverage of a “relatively unexplored theater of the war” and for Dr. Johansson’s incorporation and annotation of diverse primary sources in one volume.
The judges also named as a finalist for the Founders Award James Robert Hester’s A Yankee Scholar in Coastal South Carolina: William Francis Allen’s Civil War Journals, published by the University of South Carolina Press.
The Founders Award recognizes excellence in the editing of primary source documents related to the origins, life, and legacies of the Confederacy and the Civil War. The 2015-2016 jurors are Dr. David J. Coles of Longwood University (chair), Dr. Carl Moneyhon of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Dr. Peter C. Luebke, historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command.
The recipient of the 2016 Jefferson Davis Award is Dr. Chandra M. Manning, associate professor of history at Georgetown University (currently serving as Special Advisor to the Dean of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University 2015-2017), for Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War, published by Alfred A. Knopf. “This work is beautifully written and highlights an area of the war that has needed a floodlight turned upon it for some time: the social history of the refugee, the escaped slave crisis, and the Union Army’s response to it in the Confederacy and around the South,” observed one of the award judges. “In a growing field of Civil War ‘refugee studies,’ Manning’s work should stand out as a seminal study.”
The judges also named as finalist for the award Micki McElya’s The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery, published by Harvard University Press.
The Jefferson Davis Award recognizes outstanding narrative works on the origins, life, and legacies of the Confederacy and the American Civil War. The 2016 jurors are Dr. Barton A. Myers of Washington and Lee University (chair), Dr. Barbara A. Gannon of the University of Central Florida, and Dr. Jonathan W. White of Christopher Newport University.
The Museum awards the annual Jefferson Davis Book Award for distinguished book-length narrative history or monograph and the biennial Founders Award for excellence in the editing of primary source materials. The awards consist of a framed certificate bearing a red wax seal made from the original Great Seal of the Confederacy. Thanks to the generosity of several anonymous donors, the Davis Award also carries a modest cash prize. The winners are chosen by independent panels of leading scholars, many of whom are past recipients of the awards. The Great Seal and the peer review have made the Jefferson Davis and Founders Awards among the most prestigious and desirable awards for Civil War scholars.
Founders Award Winners

2016: M. Jane Johansson, Albert C. Ellithorpe, the First Indian Home Guards, and the Civil War on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier
2014: Graham T. Dozier, A Gunner in Lee’s Army: The Civil War Letters of Thomas Henry Carter
2012: Donald C. Pfanz, The Letters of General Richard S. Ewell: Stonewall’s Successor 
2010: George Burkhardt, Double Duty in the Civil War: The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon
2008: Charles W. Mitchell, Maryland Voices of the Civil War
2006: Kimberly Harrison, A Maryland Bride in the Deep South: The Civil War Diary of Priscilla Bond
2004:  Lynda L. Crist, et. al., The Papers of Jefferson Davis, vol. 11 
2002: Michael B. Chesson and Leslie J. Roberts, Exile in Richmond
2000: Charles F. Bryan, Jr. and Nelson D. Lankford, Eye of the Storm: A Civil War Odyssey
1998: Ward W. Briggs, Jr., Soldier and Scholar: Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve and the Civil War
1996: Lynda L. Crist, et. al., The Papers of Jefferson Davis, vol. 8
1994: Ira Berlin, et. al., Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, series I, vol. II 
1992: Russell Duncan, Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
1990: Gary W. Gallagher, Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander
1988: Carol Bleser, Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond
and John Rozier, The Granite Farm Letters: The Civil War Correspondence of Edgeworth and Sallie Bird 
1986: Richard Harwell and Philip N. Racine, The Fiery Trail: A Union Officer’s Account of Sherman’s Last Campaigns
1985: Ira Berlin, et. al., Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, series I, vol. I
1984: Michael P. Johnson and James L. Roark,  No Chariot Let Down 
1983: LeRoy P. Graf and Ralph W. Haskins, The Papers of Andrew Johnson, vol. VI
1982: John Y. Simon, The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, vols. IX and X 
1981: Charles C. McLaughlin and Charles E. Beveridge, The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, vol. II 
1980: James I. Robertson, Jr., An Index-Guide to the Southern Historical Society Papers
1979: David C. Roller and Robert W. Twyman, The Encyclopedia of Southern History
1978: William A. Frassanito, Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America’s Bloodiest Day
1977: John W. Blassingame, Slave Testimony
1975: Ezra J. Warner and W. Buck Yearns, Biographical Register of the Confederate Congress 
1974: John Hammond Moore, The Juhl Letters to the Charleston Courier
1972: Robert Ranson Myers, Children of Pride
1971: Haskell M. Monroe, The Papers of Jefferson Davis, vol. I.
1970: Warren Ripley, Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War              

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Signing!

Come on by and meet me this Saturday, March 18th at The Book Exchange at 3 North Adair in Pryor, Oklahoma. I'll be signing copies of my latest book, Albert C. Ellithorpe, The First Indian Home Guards, and the Civil War on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier You'll be offered some free tasty snacks, will get to meet Chris Hardy, the owner of the bookstore, and have the opportunity to meet some other fine folks.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

TV Appearance

Recently, I appeared on television for the first time, and, although I will never be a television star, I thought it went pretty well. Since my new book, Albert C. Ellithorpe, the First Indian Home Guards, and the Civil War on the Frontier was published, I've gotten several requests to give presentations. Among them was Sam Jones who interviewed me on his show, Perspectives, which is produced by RSU-TV. Check out the segment that I appeared on at