University of North Carolina Press 40% off sale

For history lovers, the University of North Carolina Press has announced a whopping 40% off sale in conjunction with having released their 2018 American History catalog. Spend $75 or more and get free shipping. I did not see an end date for this sale but I wouldn’t wait too long. For more information click HERE and get to saving.


Press Release–New Ulysses S. Grant Biography

I received the following information from Westholme Publishing concerning a new release of theirs, scheduled for May 2018; The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: Preserving the Civil War’s Legacy written by Paul Kahan.

A short, focused history of the politics of Reconstruction in a changing America:
On December 5, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant transmitted his eighth and final message to Congress. In reviewing his tenure as president, Grant proclaimed, “Mistakes have been made,” though he assured Congress, his administration’s “failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent.” Until recently, scholars have portrayed Grant as among the country’s worst chief executives. Though the scholarly consensus about Grant’s presidency is changing, the general public knows little, if anything, about his two terms, other than their outsized reputation for corruption. While scandals are undoubtedly part of the story, there is more to Grant’s presidency: Grant faced the Panic of 1873, the severest economic depression in U.S. history, defeated the powerful Senator Charles Sumner on the annexation of Cuba, and deftly avoided war with Spain while laying the groundwork for the “special relationship” between Great Britain and the United States. Grant’s efforts to ensure justice for African-Americans and American Indians, however, were undercut by his own decisions and by the contradictory demands of the various constituencies that made up the Republican Party.

In The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: Preserving the Civil War’s Legacy, historian Paul Kahan focuses on the unique political, economic, and cultural forces unleashed by the Civil War and how Grant addressed these issues during his tumultuous two terms as chief executive. A timely reassessment, The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant sheds new light on the business of politics in the decade after the Civil War and portrays an energetic and even progressive executive whose legacy has been overshadowed by both his wartime service and his administration’s many scandals.

Library Additions–February 2018 (2)

Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for sending along review copies of the following books. Both look like they will be very good. They both follow the standard Arcadia format; image heavy and less than 200 pages in length total. Both books contain end notes and index. Blount’s contains a bibliography while the longer book by Hardy did not have space but his notes are always thorough.

First up is Kirk’s Civil War Raids Along the Blue Ridge (Civil War Series) written by the prolific and award-winning North Carolina Civil War author, and friend of mine, Michael C. Hardy.

In the Southern Appalachian Mountains, no character was more loved or despised than Union officer George W. Kirk. He led a group of deserters on numerous raids between Tennessee and North Carolina in 1863. At Camp Vance in Morganton, Kirk’s mounted raiders showcased guerrilla warfare penetrating deep within Confederate territory. As Home Guards struggled to keep Western North Carolina communities safe, Kirk’s men brought fear throughout the region for their ability to strike and create havoc without warning.

Author Russell W. Blount gives us Wilson’s Raid: The Final Blow to the Confederacy (Civil War Series). In the closing months of the Civil War, General James Wilson led a Union cavalry raid through Alabama and parts of Georgia. Wilson, the young, brash “boy general” of the Union, matched wits against Nathan Bedford Forrest, the South’s legendary “wizard of the saddle.” Wilson’s Raiders swept through cities like Selma, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery, destroying the last remaining industrial production centers of the Confederacy along with any hopes of its survival. Forrest and his desperately outnumbered cavalry had no option but to try to stop the Union’s advance. Join Russell Blount as he examines the eyewitness accounts and diaries chronicling this defining moment in America’s bloodiest war.

Library Additions–February 2018 (1)

Thank you to my good friends at Arcadia Publishing for sending along copies of a couple of their new Civil War releases.

New Bern and the Civil War (Civil War Series) written by James Edward White III.

On March 14, 1862, Federal forces under the command of General Ambrose Burnside overwhelmed Confederate forces in the Battle of New Bern, capturing the town and its important seaport. From that time on, Confederates planned to retake the city. D.H. Hill and James J. Pettigrew made the first attempt but failed miserably. General George Pickett tried in February 1864. He nearly succeeded but called the attack off on the edge of victory. The Confederates made another charge in May led by General Robert Hoke. They had the city surrounded with superior forces when Lee called Hoke back to Richmond and ended the expedition. Author Jim White details the chaotic history of New Bern in the Civil War.

Wade Hampton’s Iron Scouts: Confederate Special Forces (Civil War Series) written by D. Michael Thomas.

Serving from late 1862 to the war’s end, Wade Hampton’s Scouts were a key component of the comprehensive intelligence network designed by Generals Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart and Wade Hampton. The Scouts were stationed behind enemy lines on a permanent basis and provided critical military intelligence to their generals. They became proficient in “unconventional” warfare and emerged unscathed in so many close-combat actions that their foes grudgingly dubbed them Hampton’s “Iron Scouts.” Author D. Michael Thomas presents the previously untold story of the Iron Scouts for the first time.

Library Additions January 2018 (1)

Thank you to Southern Illinois University Press for sending along a complimentary copy of Turning Points of the American Civil War (Engaging the Civil War).

Engaging the Civil War, a series founded by the editors of the Emerging Civil War blog group, adopts the sensibility and accessibility of public history while adhering to the standards of academic scholarship. To engage readers and bring them to a new understanding of America’s great story, series authors draw on insights they gained while working with the public—walking the ground where history happened at battlefields and historic sites, talking with visitors in museums, and educating students in classrooms.

With fresh perspectives, field-tested ideas, and in-depth research, volumes in the series connect readers with the story of the Civil War in ways that make history meaningful to them while underscoring the continued relevance of the war, its causes, and its effects. All Americans can claim the Civil War as part of their history. This series helps them engage with it.

About the book:

Contributors to this collection, public historians with experience at Civil War battle sites, examine key shifts in the Civil War and the context surrounding them to show that many chains of events caused the course of the war to change: the Federal defeats at First Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff, the wounding of Joseph Johnston at Seven Pines and the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville, the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federal victory at Vicksburg, Grant’s decision to move on to Richmond rather than retreat from the Wilderness, the naming of John B. Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee, and the 1864 presidential election. In their conclusion, the editors suggest that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln might have been the war’s final turning point.

Historian Patricia C. Griffin Has Passed Away

I received this notice in my email today.

Dear Members of the St. Augustine Historical Society,

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Dr. Patricia C. Griffin. Dr. Griffin was always available to assist the Society whenever we called upon her. She was a former president of The St. Augustine Historical Society, one of the very few Research Associates of the Society as voted by the Board of Trustees, and a contributor to El Escribano and The Oldest City. She shared in the academic work of her archaeologist husband, Dr. John Griffin, and her knowledge and love of St. Augustine was her gift to others. Her texts, Mullet on the Beach: The Minorcans of Florida, 1768-1788 (Florida Sand Dollar Books) and The Odyssey of an African Slave by Sitiki, are classics–wonderful examples of weaving anthropological perspective into historic writing.

She will be greatly missed, and we offer our condolences to her family.

Sincerely yours,
Magen Wilson
Executive Director

Patricia Conaway Griffin, Ph.D.
January 30, 1920 – December 31, 2017

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well known to St. Augustine for her groundbreaking ethnic studies. Dr. Patricia Griffin examined the first twenty years of Florida’s Minorcan community in the 1988 El Escribano: Mullet on the Beach (Later republished in book form by the University Press of Florida.) As early as 1971 African Americans became a major focus with a study of the Frenchtown neighborhood in Tallahassee and later as editor & annotator of The Odyssey of an African Slave by Sitiki. Short articles written for the historical society included: Emerson in St. Augustine and Mary Evans: Woman of Substance as well as the chapter on the Second Spanish Period in The Oldest City: Saga of Survival. She was active with the project to microfilm the Roman Catholic Church records in the Island of Minorca and the historical society published her diary of the 1994 expedition in El Escribano. Dr. Griffin served as President of the historical society in 2003. In 1992 as a tribute to her scholarship, the Board of Trustees made her one of the very few Research Associates of the St. Augustine Historical Society.

Pat was born in San Luis Obispo, California, an old Spanish Franciscan Mission town. She received an AB from University of California (Berkeley) in 1943. In 1945 she completed a Master’s degree in social service administration at the University of Chicago. A Master’s degree in anthropology came in 1977 from the University of Florida. She earned a Doctorate in anthropology from the University of Florida with her dissertation on the impact of tourism of local festivals, specifically St. Augustine. Dr. Griffin spent the majority of her time since 1954 in St. Augustine when her late husband Dr. John Griffin accepted the position Executive Historian of the St. Augustine Historical Society. From 1955 to 1957, she taught history and social studies in St. Johns County high schools. The Griffins were founding members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Augustine in 1985. She was on the faculty of Florida State University from 1970 to 1980. She was editor of the Florida Journal of Anthropology in 1975. In the 1980s, she held various positions as an administrator and clinical social worker with the Tri-County Mental Health Services, Inc. The Historical Research Institute at Flagler College inducted her in the 1990s. Pat edited her husband John’s papers into Fifty Years of Southeastern Archaeology: Selected Works of John W. Griffin for the University Press of Florida in 1996. Some of her most recent writings were as an historical and anthropological consultant for archaeological reports on several eastern Florida plantation sites excavated by Ted Payne.

In addition to her career in teaching and social work, she and her late husband John raised five children over the course of their long marriage. Dr. Griffin was an avid runner who held two age records in the Gate River Run in Jacksonville. In 1984 she was a member of the Silver Haired Legislature of Florida. From 1980-1985, Dr. Griffin served on the Board of Directors of the Area Agency on Aging which covers all of northeast Florida plus Flagler & Volusia Counties.

Condolences may be sent to the Griffin family at 901 North Griffin Shores Drive, St. Augustine, Florida 32080.

Book Review–Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War

Lees, William B. and Frederick P. Gaske. Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. 2014. 370 pages, 305 pages text. Index, bibliography, end notes, b/w photos. ISBN 9780813049960, $44.95.

With the recent controversies over monuments and memorials, and not just those with some attachment to the Civil War as a whole or the Confederacy specifically, it can be easy to lose sight where monuments are, who or what the were erected to or for, who erected them, or in some unfortunate cases, what they even looked like. Authors William B. Lees and Frederick P. Gaske have done a fine job in rounding up and researching Civil War monuments located in the Sunshine State.

Lees and Gaske are well qualified to write such a book. Lees serves as Director of Florida Public Archaeology Network at the University of West Florida and Gaske has served as the state of Florida’s Historic Preservation Officer in addition to having coauthored the Florida Civil War Heritage Trail Guide, a free publication produced by the state.

The authors argue that to truly understand these monuments we must place them in the context of the time they were erected. Different monuments mean different things. It is also important that we understand that sacrifice meant different things to Union and Confederate soldiers.

The book is broken down chronologically which while it has its benefits, particularly in backing the author’s argument of understanding monuments and their place in time, also can become difficult for the reader if they are only looking to know about particular monuments. For those readers a straight alphabetical system would be a better choice. Readers searching for information on a favorite monument have to refer to the index to find where to turn.

The book is broken into five chapters: Reconstruction and Beyond, Remembering Confederate Sacrifice and Valor After Reconstruction, Remembering the Union Soldier and Sailor, Remembering Hallowed Ground, and Monuments Erected After the Civil War Centennial. The authors take each monument and work to tell its story through the use of contemporary sources, whether they be newspapers, archives, government records, and more. A look at the notes and bibliography of this book will show the research efforts that were expended.

While the Reconstruction period saw only a small handful of monuments erected, the ending of federal occupation was a boom period for remembering and honoring the dead. With the creation of the Daughters of the Confederacy and their later incarnation as United Daughters of the Confederacy at least 34 monuments were erected in the state. The subject matter and location of monuments varied from outright Lost Cause to monuments such as that in a Deland cemetery which contained a list of Confederate soldiers buried there. While the majority of these monuments are still in place some, such as the Daytona Beach monument, have been damaged or altered, and some, such as Orlando, have been removed since publication of this book.

What is fascinating is the continued creation and placing of memorials and monuments. In the post 1968 period Lees and Gaske account for 33 new monuments with more being erected today. This growth is provided by organizations such as Sons of Confederate Veterans who have this as one of their stated goals. The trend on these new monuments is toward smaller and less elaborate design which is probably due to design trends but more likely cost and budget concerns. While these new monuments are often meant to commemorate hallowed ground or to honor specific soldiers the fact that the Confederate flag has been used by many other groups, often with negative consequences, the claim of “heritage not hate” is a message that is often considered to be false.

This is a valuable book and should be on the shelves of those interested in Civil War history, Florida history, and even Civil Rights history. The story is an important one and one that will not be going away. It is our responsibility to understand those of the past did not live by our standards of today. To argue that the war was not based upon the issue of slavery would fly in the face of the Articles of Secession; to erase reminders of the war will not erase the war and to me is not the correct way to deal with the issue. We should not be standing in judgement of those who came before us for erecting these memorials and monuments, but rather, we should convey that history and work to tell a new full sided and complete story. To those putting up new monuments, you have a responsibility to be honest and not hide what we now understand to be true.

To see other posts dealing with the University Press of Florida click here.

Book Review: Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection

Smithsonian Books. Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection.  Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books. 2013. ISBN 9781588343895, color and b/w photos, index, 368 pages, $40.

If you are searching for an impressive looking and hefty coffee table book that you can leave out for guests to browse and perhaps use as a conversation starter this would be an excellent choice. If you are looking for something with more depth you should look elsewhere.

Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the war, the book unimaginatively uses 150 objects from the Smithsonian collections to illustrate the Civil War. While it is very nice to see these items, especially for those of us who do not have the ability to easily visit the various Smithsonian museums, it just seems as if this is a large grouping thrown together in order to publish an expensive book. While loosely chronological, the book is not put into real chapters. Rather, each of the 150 objects forms its own short chapter so to speak. Another difficulty of this book for me is trying to figure out which museum holds which object. These individual artifacts are not labeled, instead the reader must turn to the back of the book and by using page numbers, rather than artifact/chapter number, find the listing, then translate that by using the key provided. Be sure to have your magnifying sheet handy, the type is quite small. No bibliography or notes are included so verifying statements and conclusions is difficult.

This brings me to another point this book drives home to me, which is the donating of historical objects. Please, please, please, do yourselves and others a favor and consider your local historical museums. The Smithsonian, and similar institutions, are cram packed with objects that will NEVER see the light of day. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark. These monstrous archives can not be cared for properly and with the exception of genuinely unique items pieces will eventually be accessioned, boxed, and forgotten about or disposed of in some manner. At smaller museums, these pieces will more likely than not be treasured and put on display. People will actually be able to enjoy the artifacts you have donated and isn’t that the purpose. For many small museums donations are their only source of new materials. Their budgets do not allow for purchases so your item could become a show piece.

Back to the book, as mentioned, it is truly a beautiful book. The photography is top-notch and the book is solid. It really is more a coffee table piece rather than anything you will learn from or actually sit down and read cover to cover. The chapters are brief so you can easily pick this up, put it down, and start on it again whenever and not have forgotten anything. Don’t expect to learn much, but rather, just marvel in the images.

Journal of Southern History Vol. LXXXIII, No. 4

The mail today included the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Southern History.  Below are the main journal articles.

Elusive Justice in Baltimore: The Conviction of a White Policeman for Killing a Black Man in 1875 written by Gordon H. Shufelt.

Defending Black Suffrage: Poll Taxes, Preachers, and Anti-Prohibition in Texas, 1887-1916 written by Brendan J. Payne.

Oil on the Farm: The East Texas Oil Boom and the Origins of an Energy Economy written by Wallace Scot McFarlane.

When Kia Came to Georgia: Southern Transplants and the Growth of America’s “Other” Automakers written by Timothy J. Minchin.

The issue also contains almost seventy book reviews.