Tag Archives: CIvil War veterans

American Civil War Web-Course

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 8.04.38 PMGreetings all! I have been posting updates on Twitter of late chronicling the progress of my next web-course: The American Civil War. I am very pleased to announce that the launch date is May 14, 2016. The course includes nearly forty video lectures and other projects covering military, social, political, and economic aspects of the conflict.

I am most excited to offer this course to my founding web-students for a 50% discount off the already reasonable price. You won’t find this deal anywhere but through this site – and the offer goes away on launch day. So you had better get on the stick. Here’s what you need to do:

ONE – be a current student or enroll now in either my Gettysburg or Reconstruction Era web-course for the regular discounted price available only from Keith Harris History.

TWO – sign up to be part of the Keith Harris History CREW so I can be sure to get you the info you need.

Get that all squared away and on launch day you will receive your discount code via email. And that’s it. Easy right?

With compliments,



Speaking Engagement in Pasadena – October 28th

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 9.33.16 AMGreetings to my Southern California friends – I will be speaking to the Pasadena Civil War Round Table on October 28th at 7:15 PM. The place: the Pasadena Central Library. The topic: Civil War veterans and reconciliation. This talk will be kicking off my book tour, of sorts…kind of promotional and kind of informative at the same time. If LSU press comes through by then, I might even have a copy or three on hand. Come one, come all – I PROMISE you will not be disappointed!

Here’s the deets.

With compliments,


Californians Are SO Nice

Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 8.38.34 AMI love the West! Especially here in California – we’re just so nice and generous and caring. Well…not really. But back in the 1880s, when some good folks were planning a home for destitute Civil War veterans, the idea was to suggest that something was different about the proposed home here in the Bear Flag Republic. In my quest to determine what Union veterans thought about the West, I have begun to uncover a few things. Here is what one San Jose newspaper had to say about the idea of a home –

The plan, as we understand it, is a wider and even more humane one than that of those excellent “Soldiers’ Homes” in the East, where in one large building the veterans are gathered into a male colony, to receive the benefits of which they must be separated form their families. There is something very shocking in this idea, which originated with the English Poor Law Unions, of separating in their old age husbands and wives because they are guilty if the single crime of poverty. An institution will be provided for the single veterans and small cottages, each with a little tract of land, will be allotted to those veterans who are still blessed with the society of their wives whose hearts used to grow faint and their eyes dim as after some great battle they scanned the list of “killed, wounded, and missing.”

So are the people of California thinking that those back East are somehow colder, more callous, less sensitive to the needs of those who saved the Union? This is actually a very intriguing question but one at this point I am unable to answer. Let’s just say this. It certainly seems from other things that I have been reading that Union veterans who settled West are tending to think of themselves as westerners – and are interpreting and commemorating Union from a western perspective. At least some of them are.

In the nineteenth-century sectional reorientation that recast a nation divided between old and new…East and West, veterans who made their way to California suddenly found themselves with lots to talk about. Aren’t you interested in what they might say next??

With compliments,


General Rosecrans Says Back Up Your Files

BookReaderImages(2)As I work through and organize some of the research I have been doing on Union veterans in Southern California I am reminded that technology can sometimes inexplicably and unexpectedly fail. A couple of summers ago my hard drive crashed and I lost a TON of work on former Union General William Rosecrans. As you all know, he migrated to California after the war and was up to all sorts of things, specifically: politics, land speculation, and veteran organization. I guess I will just move on and do the work again. It won’t be the first time I have had to go back to the archives. Fun fact: the “Genius” at the Apple store said that hard drives have a 100% failure rate. Meaning…your machine is going to die sooner or later. I guess he made a lot of sense – though I never thought it would happen to me.

I moped about my tragic loss for a while this morning but did however come across an old (Cosmic America) blog post that reflected a tiny shred of my Rosecrans research – it had to do with the former general and his relationships with a few ex-Rebels…including Robert E. Lee. Here’s a snippet:

[quote]I came across an interesting correspondence in that collection that I thought I would share here. It turns out, General Rosecrans was not in sympathy with the government’s policy towards the southern states in the immediate postwar years. The radical measures enacted for the reconstruction of the South seemed, to him, harsh and vindictive. In August, 1868, he wrote General Robert E. Lee requesting him to confer with leading citizens of the southern states and prepare a statement that would reflect the wishes and sentiments of his people with regard to the future of the South. General Lee’s reply is known as the White Sulphur Springs Letter.

Here is a segment of the letter dated August 26, 1868 – concerning former slaves:

It is true that the people of the South, in common with a large majority of the people of the North & West, are, for obvious reasons, inflexibly opposed to any system of laws which would place the political powers of the country in the hands of the negro race. But this opposition springs from no feeling of enmity, but from a deep seated conviction that at present, the negroes have nether the intelligence nor the other qualifications which are necessary to make them safe depositories of political power. They would inevitably become the victims of demagogues, who for selfish purposes, would mislead them to the serious injury of the public. The great want of the South is peace. The people earnestly desire tranquility & a restoration of the Union. They deprecate disorder and excitement is the most serious obstacle to their prosperity.

RE Lee

This letter is indicative of Lee’s public position on freedmen and the restoration of the Union. Privately he spent his days in bitter reflection. But when he conferred with former enemies on public statements, he often took up this conciliatory tone of moderation.

The collection is rich with others’ response to the letter – published throughout the South. Nathan Bedford Forrest, P. G. T. Beauregard, and John Brown Gordon number among the many former Rebels who wrote Rosecrans in support of both the letter and Rosecrans’s efforts to to initiate correspondence with Lee on the subject. Even Lee himself wrote a brief note of thanks. [/quote]

Anyway…enough reminiscing. Time to back up some files and get back to work. I’ll be heading back to UCLA special collections shortly to dig into the Rosecrans Papers (again). Expect some more juicy tidbits in the near future.

With compliments,


Civil War Generation Database – Los Angeles

IMG_0412 I have just kicked off an ambitious project to catalog the Civil War generation who moved to – and then died (and were thus buried) in Los Angeles. I am beginning with those who I can positively identify as veterans of the United States Army and Navy. I am also checking up on all of those who fit the Civil War generation’s bill as well. Today I came across the grave of Moses Pratt in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Santa Monica Blvd. His grave is located near the south-east corner of the cemetery, underneath a pair of supportive beams holding up some shrubbery, next to a few implements used to feed feral cats. My guess is that Pratt, a former private with the 154th Illinois Infantry, has been forgotten in this rarely visited section of Hollywood Forever. So I think I will get a little United States flag for his grave.

Pratt’s unit was mustered in late in the war – February 1865 to be exact – and never saw any real action. He spent his life in the army guarding the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad in Tennessee (Department of the Cumberland) until he was mustered out in September of the same year. I wonder what brought him to the Golden State?

With compliments,


PS – Naturally, once the database gets a little meat on its bones, I will make it available to all…with pictures and everything. You’re welcome.

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