Looking Back On The First Government Shutdown

On the eve of the latest government shutdown ending, NPR takes a look back to the first shutdown, which also had its roots in racism. Plus ça change, America? I’m filing this blog post under “reenactments”.

GONZALEZ: At the time, African-American men were allowed to vote, but they tended to vote Republican. So Democrats didn’t want them voting. Sometimes, it resulted in violence at the polls. And the government would send troops. Nineteenth-century Democrats hated this. So when they gained control of Congress 14 years after the Civil War, they come up with this idea.

RICHARDSON: Simply starve the government until they did what we wanted by holding a gun to the head of the Treasury.

GONZALEZ: Fund the courts and the Army but only if the government stops protecting black voters.

RICHARDSON: There are a number of cartoons in the newspapers about how the Confederates have taken back over Washington and how they are deliberately starving the United States Treasury the same way that they starved Union prisoners.

Source: Looking Back On The First Government Shutdown In U.S. History : NPR

Re-enacting the ‘walk home’

A young reenactor is recreating a moment in the war that always fascinated me: The defeated southern soldier’s long walk home from the battlefields. Neat idea. Here’s wishing him good roads and fair weather.

A 24-year-old Charlotte native, Brown has had an interest in Civil War history since he was a child. It’s something that came from his father, who was also a re-enactor, and from his great grandfather’s and great uncle’s service in World War II.

“I looked at this as a way to better understand their lives,” he said. “It also sounded like fun at the time.”

Brown and Berg mapped out a route that roughly followed the North Carolina Railroad, which they think many soldiers would have used as a guide home. Berg said she then contacted churches, tourism agencies and historic sites along the route, where Brown could eat and sleep.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/johnston-county/article21332118.html#storylink=cpy

Civil War re-enactor continues ‘walk home’ from New Bern to Duke Homestead | News & Observer News & Observer.

Replica of Lincoln’s Coffin on Tour

I’m posting this too late for it to be of use to Indiana buffs, but there are enough interesting facts to merit mentioning it anyway.  If you ever wanted to know the difference between a coffin and a casket, for instance – I’d never given it much thought before.  I’d also not given much thought to the size of a coffin needed to bury a 6’4″ President.  It says here that Lincoln’s coffin was only 2″ taller that the big man himself, which is a surprise.  Was he buried shoeless and after a haircut?

April 14, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. In remembrance of this historic date, a replica of the well-loved president’s coffin will be on display for public viewing at Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory in January. 

This replica, known as the Lincoln Replica, was made by the Batesville Casket Company in Batesville, Indiana. According to a Batesville representative, it is one of four replicas touring the country. A fifth coffin is on permanent display in Springfield, Missouri, Lincoln’s birthplace. The coffin, authentic down to the smallest details, measures 6 feet 6 inches long and is constructed of solid walnut. It is completely covered in black broadcloth and has a white satin interior.

via Replica of Lincoln’s coffin to visit the Suncoast – Sarasota News | Mysuncoast.com and ABC 7: Featured.

Long Reach of Wounds

This is an article publicizing a reenactor’s appearance, but unlike other notices of the sort, it is very fleshed-out (emphasis on flesh). The reenactment is of a Civil War doctor, and the writer makes a point of discussing the realities beyond the wound itself, such as how saving an arm could cost a relationship 20 years later.

Richard Covell Phillips of Prattsburgh (44th New York) fought on after being wounded on the second day at Gettysburg, then made his way to a field hospital. There a doctor saved his arm, but he lost the USE of that arm. Later he and other walking wounded were ordered to make their own way on foot several miles down to town, picking their way through the decaying corpses of thousands of men, mules, and horses. After a night on the floor of a church the wounded went by train to Baltimore, where the hospitals were full. Diverted to Philadelphia he finally had his blood-soaked uniform cut away, a week or so after being wounded.

Philips stayed in the army, even serving a year or so postwar. But his wound exacted a toll from his family for decades. His oldest son wanted badly to get an extensive education, but the father insisted that he leave school as a teenager and work on the farm, doing the jobs his father couldn’t… an insistence that engendered deep bitterness.

Dr. Babcock and Dr. Annabel — Civil War Medicine Then and Now – Blogs – The Leader.

Quantrill rides again to Lawrence: This time on Twitter

One of the many sesquicentennial events I’ve missed during this year of working too much was the Lawrence raid by Quantrill’s bushwhackers.  The infamous guerrilla chief and his band slaughtered hundreds of men and boys in the border town.  This summer, a group of “reenactors” recreated the raid in real time on Twitter. I wish I’d found out about it at the time, but then reliving massacres would hardly have lessened my stress.

Call it a “tweet-enactment” — to recreate an historical event minute by minute as if it were happening now — and it may be a first for social media.

William Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kan., was an act of terrorism, 1800s style. It’s being brought to life on Twitter Wednesday to mark the 150th anniversary of the Aug. 21 attack that left nearly 200 men and boys dead and much of the town burned.

More than 30 people are “live-tweeting” with the hashtag QR1863 in a sort of “virtual theatre” reenactment of the events from the perspectives of the famous — such as Quantrill himself — and ordinary citizens like Elizabeth Fisher.

via Quantrill rides again to Lawrence: This time on Twitter #QR1863.

Making a Tintype

This video is totally silent, totally modern, and has nothing to do with the Civil War, but it’s still very relevant: This is a start-to-finish, real-time demonstration of how to make a tintype photo, which along with ambrotyping were the main photographic processes during the 1860s.  Fascinating to watch, it makes you realize why there were no action shots taken during the war, and also makes you appreciate how many existing, perfect photos from the period exist.

Making a tintype- First-person point of view using a GoPro – YouTube.

Civil War Surgery Reenactment

I’m fascinated by the wartime medical practices, though they are generally shudder-inducing.   These reenactors bring up a point I’ve never thought about from my modern, accessible viewpoint.

The “amputee” in this case was only concerned with whether he would live, but medical re-enactor Trevor Steinbach said in other cases soldiers would protest that they were losing their livelihood.

“You can’t do a lot of chores on a farm with no arms,” he said.

(You’ve got to love how relaxed that amputation patient looks in the pictures – the guy’s clearly not a method actor.)

via Civil War surgery re-enactors wow library visitors – LaSalle News Tribune – LaSalle, IL.


Neat video purporting to be a science experiment on determining the position of artillery on preserved battlefields, but there’s less science on display than yeehawing reenactors and buffs getting to shoot live ammunition from a Napoleon cannon.

Seeing the grapeshot’s range and scatter disquieting. I am amazed anew at the bravery of the men who marched willingly into the face of that threat.  Hearing that peculiar jangling noise as you marched within range must have been terrifying.


Cannister Shot From Civil War Cannon.wmv – YouTube.

Watch Night

Came across this while researching yesterday’s podcast, but sadly, the writing got away from me and I had to cut the reference.  This is a really lovely callout to history – it wouldn’t fit on my podcast but I might just put it on my bucket list.

A tradition began Dec. 31, 1862, as many black churches held Watch Night services, awaiting word that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would take effect amid a bloody Civil War. Later, congregations listened as the president’s historic words were read aloud…

This year, the Watch Night tradition will follow the historic document to its home at the National Archives with a special midnight display planned with readings, songs and bell ringing among the nation’s founding documents…

“We will be calling back to an old tradition,” said U.S. Archivist David Ferriero, noting the proclamation’s legacy. “When you see thousands of people waiting in line in the dark and cold … we know that they’re not there just for words on paper.

via National Archives tribute, Watch Nights among events marking Emancipation Proclamation’s 150th – Washington Post.