Category Archives: Veterans

A Few Out of the Way Spots on Memorial Day

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 9.27.20 AMA few day ago I posted a number of pictures taken while participating in the pre-Memorial Day exercises at the National Cemetery in Los Angeles. Over the weekend, it occurred to me that there were several Union Civil War veterans buried elsewhere in cemeteries around LA, especially at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which as I have often made note, is in close proximity to Harristorian HQ.

Unfortunately, most of the graves are in isolated parts of the cemetery and rarely visited. I suppose that the veterans’ descendents have long ago moved on. So we (my wife, Coni and I) took it upon ourselves to hold our own Decoration Day (the original name of Memorial Day from 1868) and place flags on the graves of Union veterans in Hollywood.

Below are a few shots of our own festivities.

 

With compliments,

Keith

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John A. Logan’s General Order #11 Designating Memorial Day

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 9.20.07 AMGrand Army of the Republic commander John A. Logan issued GAR General Order #11 on May 5, 1868. Note that the twin themes of Union and emancipation hold equal significance:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice of neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 9.19.23 AMwarmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude, — the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

With compliments,
Keith

An Excellent Research Facility – The Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 12.12.01 PMFor those of you interested in veterans, be sure to visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison. Here you will find a mountain of documents on veterans of America’s wars – not only the Civil War but the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Conflicts.

I spent over a week pouring over the (seemingly endless) collection from the Museum’s Grand Army of the Republic Archives. If the GAR had something to say in Wisconsin, The WVM has it in their files! Of particular interest for those of you involved with Union veterans, the GAR Patriotic Instructor, one Lucius Fairchild, was a Wisconsin veteran. His files are at the WVM and come in handy when trying to figure out the Grand Army message to the world.

They have quite a bit of information listed on their website and are more than helpful when it comes to special requests. I know for sure that there is a collection guide for Civil War veterans – I shot them an email and they sent it right over.

So there you go – the first of many research facilities that I will be talking about in the future.

With compliments,

Keith

Love Him or Hate Him – Dan is the Man

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 7.57.20 AMThink what you want about General Daniel E. Sickles. But you cannot deny that the man lived a storied life. A few highlights: he murdered his wife’s lover in broad daylight in Washington City, then escaped punishment by utilizing a “temporary insanity” defense – the first in legal history. He nearly destroyed (or totally saved, depending on perspective) the Army of the Potomac on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg by marching his corps way way out in front of the Union line of battle without orders – he lost his leg, and later won the Medal of Honor for gallantry. The one-legged Lothario even had a romantic tryst with Queen Isabella II of Spain…and may have dabbled with a few other ladies of the royal Spanish court – ¿Quien es mas guapo del mundo? Senior Dan.

Today, May 3, is the 100th anniversary of Sickles’s death. I was recently reading Glenn LaFantasie’s book on Little Round Top and he made note of the ambiguous wording of one of Sickles’s obituaries: “No one with warm blood flowing through his veins can read the obituary notices of Gen Sickles without a certain thrill of admiration.” One cannot not readily tell whether the author celebrated the general’s life or applauded his death. I’ll leave it for you to decide.

With compliments,

Keith

The Real Rebel Yell

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 9.43.49 AMThe other day I posted videos capturing the recreation of and the story behind the recreation of the infamous Rebel yell. I think that all in all this was a laudable effort to resuscitate a war cry that had long ago faded into history. Several people on the usual social media suspects commented their approval. But at least one person seemed incensed by this recreation. This individual suggested that it is quite impossible to recreate the yell out of the context of actual war. In many ways I must agree – the gentlemen reenacting the yell during a modern-day bayonet charge are out for a good time. No one is shooting at them, no one is dying. Fair enough. But I think that the reenactors provided a close approximation. Another reader pointed me to a film clip of actual Confederate veterans (now quite elderly) yelling their hearts out.  Take note that the authentic yells are eerily similar to the modern day version. Of course, no one is shooting at the veterans either – these old timers seem to be having a fine time entertaining their audience. What do you think?

 


With compliments,
Keith

PS – I think it’s funny when people put clips up on Youtube and call them “rare.” Umm….it’s on Youtube. How rare can it be?