I spend a lot of time in my local cemetery – Hollywood Forever. The cemetery, among the most interesting in Los Angeles, is the final resting place for all kinds of Hollywood celebrities – from Cecil B. DeMille to Rudolph Valentino to Dee Dee Ramone. But nearly every time I visit, I find the grave of someone who strikes a historical chord – often having some Civil War connection. Just the other day, I encountered this rather dignified looking fellow: one Cornelius Cole. Cole served a single term in the House of Representatives representing the Republican Party from California from 1863 to 1865, and then in the Senate from 1867 to 1873.
After the war he practiced law in San Francisco and then Los Angeles where he purchased one of the original Spanish landgrants – he called it Colegrove.
Well…Colegrove is now Hollywood. But at least they named a street after him. So if you are in town and find yourself on Cole Street – you’ll know where it got its name.
I get a question from my Civil War students all the time. It goes something like this: what mistake cost the Confederates the battle at Gettysburg? There are plenty of contenders. Richard S. Ewell failing to take Cemetery Hill on July 1, James Longstreet sulking around and not launching his flank attack against Little Round Top until late in the day on July 2, and Robert E. Lee himself – ordering a perilous frontal assault against well-fortified Yankees on Cemetery Ridge on July 3. Cavalry wiz-kid JEB Stuart comes up too. He had been more or less MIA for the whole campaign – denying the Army of Northern Virginia valuable intelligence they most certainly would have used to their advantage.
What I find most interesting about the question is that is presumes a foreordained Confederate victory that only fell short due to a misstep by a single individual. The question fails to address whether or not Union commanders (Meade, Hancock, Warren, etc) made some really good calls and outfought the Rebels. This, I think, is worth considering. After all, after the war, when someone asked former Confederate George Pickett why his army failed to secure a victory at Gettysburg he responded, “I think the Union army had something to do with it.”
So here’s your chance to weigh in. And for my money, though I do not necessarily think this was the determining factor to the outcome of the battle, JEB Stuart blew it wholesale and really let his army down. I mean…come on dude. You had ONE JOB.
Greetings 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?
Hi all – as you most certainly know, I offer a number of web-courses on United States history – you can check them out HERE. So far, the reviews have been very good…whether you are a buff or a student of history, I am sure you will get a lot out of them. At any rate…I am currently putting together a comprehensive course on the American Civil War and I need your help. Along with historical images, I am including video footage – trees, rivers, landscape vistas, battlefields – to enhance the narrative and bring the history to life.
Here’s the trouble – I live in Hollywood and the scenery around here is not particularly evocative when it comes to visualizing Civil War history. So I ask that you send in a 10-15 second video clip(s) of scenery…whatever you think looks cool. I am especially interested in videos showing southern-esque landscapes (Pennsylvania and Kentucky would be great too), without anything modern in the frame.
For your efforts, I offer to give you the course at no charge when it launches in early May. All I ask is that the camera is held steady – either stationary or panning – and you can see some sort of movement…such as leaves blowing in the wind or flowing water. Don’t concern yourself with the sound – I am dropping that out to add my own effects. You can send your videos HERE in an attachment.
Now’s your chance to go full Spielberg…and I will be forever grateful. Here’s a couple of examples for inspiration:
I got an email recently from a Battle of Gettysburg student (Mike B.) asking me to clarify something I said about the battle on the Interwebs.
I mentioned something along the lines of “Gettysburg is not as important as you might think it is.” Thanks for the note, Mike – lets see if I can clear things up a bit.
When analyzing history from the vantage point of the present (as I have warned people not to do), one could surmise that the battle was indeed the turning point. The Confederates never again could claim a decisive victory along the lines of Chancellorsville or Fredericksburg. But the Union victory here was not by any means the stepping off point towards guaranteed victory.
The participants and citizens of their respective countries certainly didn’t think so. Just read a newspaper from the period. The Confederates, with Lee at the helm the Army of Northern Virginia, still firmly believed that victory was within their grasp – Gettysburg or not. The Union Army was bogged down in Virginia, the northern civilian population was growing increasingly weary of the war, and even Abraham Lincoln thought he was going to lose the election of 1864 and perhaps the war along with it.
Sure as shit – the letters home from the Confederate Army indicated that morale was up. I have read them myself…tons of these letters are housed at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. Go there yourself and check them out if you don’t believe me.
So all this “High Tide of the Confederacy” stuff is a postwar creation. Sure, the citizens of the North and South thought the battle was important to be sure, but perhaps for different reasons than many Americans believe today.
And…if you read all the way to the end of this post I have a got a surprise for you – you can get the super-uber-deep- discount on my Gettysburg web-course HERE. You’re welcome 🙂