Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Gettysburg 150th Commemoration


I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a suitable way to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Until last night, I was drawing a blank.  Then, along about 3 am this morning, it came to me.  The benefit of being an insomniac is that I get some of my best ideas in the wee hours of the morning.  So allow me to briefly tell you how the Civil War Addict blog will honor the memory of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Just as the guns of the Civil War have long ago fallen silent, so too shall my blog.  This will mark my last blog post until July 4th.  There will be no new posts during the three day commemoration events.  Instead of reading my blog on July 1, 2, or 3rd, instead I implore you to quietly remember the veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg along with the civilians who lived there at the time of the battle.  My only Confederate ancestor in the Eastern Theater was killed at Antietam.  However, I do have two ancestors who were with the "Fightin' Fools" of the 8th Ohio Infantry.  They were not only present at Gettysburg but they also helped repulse the brave men who made Pickett's Charge.

So I bid you adieu, friends, until the 4th of July.  I will start that morning off with a new post.  However, if you need your addict fix, feel free to check out my Confessions of a Great War Addict blog here between now and then.  I will still be active on my Civil War Addict page as well.  So rest assured, I won't drop completely off the face of the earth!

My name is Lee Hutch and I will be a silent Civil War Addict blogger until July 4th.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Raiders of the Lost Cause


The history of the Southern Confederacy contains numerous tales of feats of daring do.  The Lost Cause certainly had its share of nefarious plots and dark deeds plotted in smoke filled back rooms late at night.  The  Confederacy also had its share of raiders as well.  John Hunt Morgan, raider of Kentucky and Ohio, the CSS Alabama, raider of the high seas, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, raider of Middle Tennessee are just a few of the best ones.  I would be remiss if I did not also mention Earl Van Dorn, raider of Holly Springs.............and other men's wives.

Partially as a result of the Dahlgren Raid, the Confederate government turned to unconventional methods as a way to balance out the Northern numerical advantage.  Though some such plots had always existed (and did in the North as well), when the Confederate government felt that they had been specifically targeted by the Lincoln Administration, they took the gloves off.  (Note that the authenticity of the Dahlgren papers has always been questioned, however, that is beside the point as the Davis Administration believed they were true.)  All of this answers the question of why I would like to eat supper with Judah P. Benjamin.  Besides being a witty, cherubic fellow, as Secretary of State he was involved in setting up some of these Confederate operations.

I have done a tremendous amount of research concerning the Confederate plot to burn New York City.  I had an eye towards writing a book about it.  Indeed, I had one well under way.  However, another fellow beat me to the punch.  His book is good.  And as this is not a topic like Gettysburg that can sustain a million books, I put my project aside.  You can find his book here.  I definitely recommend it.  And you can find a free download of the memoirs of one of the Confederate agents involved in the operation here.

Now the Lost Cause needed an Indiana Jones too.  And believe it or not, they had one.  His name was Thomas Henry Hines.  His story reads like a espionage novel of old.  Hines was one of Morgan's men and in fact was with him when they escaped from the Ohio Penitentiary.  The Northwest Conspiracy was just one of the many things that he was involved in.  After the war, Hines went on to be a respected judge in Kentucky.  A book was published about him in 1954, but sadly it is out of print.  However, you can download a free copy from here.  I'm not normally given to hyperbole, but if you only read one Civil War book this summer, read this one.

I could pontificate at length on this subject, since it is one that fascinates me, but I will bring this to a close by mentioning that we are almost to the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg.  (You know, that little battle they had in the Eastern Theater.)  And yesterday, the 28th of June, marked the 99th Anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.  (And something of a World War 1 addict as well.)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Civil War Quotes


The Civil War brought us numerous memorable quotes.  They range from comical to inspiring to downright disturbing.  It is only logical that the crucible of American history provided us with such great stories and great statements.  I could type at length detailing the verbal legacy left us by our Civil War veterans.  And it is a temptation, believe me.  Instead I will simply detail some of the better (in my opinion) ones and then ask you to contribute yours.

For inspiration, see Winfield Scott Hancock's famous quote at Gettysburg.  When urged to remove himself from the line of fire as his troops held firm against Pickett's Charge, he said "There are times when a Corps Commander's life doesn't count."  That is the kind of leader I'd follow to hell and back.

For a comical quote, we can turn to General William Tecumseh Sherman.  If the reports are accurate, Sherman had very little use for newspaper reporters.  He is quoted as saying "If I killed them all there would be news from hell before breakfast."  I wonder what old Uncle Billy would say about bloggers!

And for the disturbing, let us look to Confederate Major Orton Williams. After shooting and killing a soldier who failed to salute him on multiple occasions, he had this to say, "For his ignorance I pitied him; for his insolence, I forgave him, for his insubordination, I slew him."  Any volunteers to serve in his unit?  Since this is a lesser known quote, here is a source.  I have seen this quote in other sources as well, so there is independent confirmation of it.

But I saved my favorite quote for last.  Let us now chat with Earl Van Dorn.  Following the Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge (aka: Elkhorn Tavern), our erstwhile cavalryman had this to say.  "I was not defeated, but only foiled in my intentions."  (source)  Sure, Earl.  I'll buy that bridge you have for sale too!

So those are my favorite quotes.  What are yours?  And to answer my previous blog question about which Civil War character that you would most like to have supper with, my answer is Judah P. Benjamin.  And for the record, my wife would NOT be allowed to eat supper with Earl Van Dorn!

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.  I had the honor to be interviewed by the Vision and Verse blog today as well.  Please visit the link and read my short interview about writing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Appetite For War


I would hazard a guess that from the moment that humans first learned how to wage war on one another, soldiers have complained about their food.  Said complaints may mention the quality, taste, preparation, or perhaps the lack thereof.  Napoleon is credited with saying that "An army marches on its stomach."  If that is true, one must wonder how wars even get fought at all.  I'll never forget the day that my grandfather, a World War 2 veteran, informed me that the first "s" word in "stuff on a shingle" wasn't actually the word "stuff."

Soldiers from the Civil War were no different in this regard.  They too had frequent complaints about the cuisine they were expected to eat.  Often times their memoirs devote a chunk of time to describing various meals that they ate (if the meals were good) or describing their lack of meals at given points.  Though supplies tended to flow more freely to Northern troops, that does not mean that they always ate better than their Confederate counterparts at any given moment.  Also, troops on both sides could occasionally forage for food when on an active campaign.  However this was not always possible.  If you look at the available records, you will see how small (by today's standards) Civil War soldiers were.  Part of this is due to their diet and part of it due to the hardships association with campaigning in the 19th Century.  If they serve meals in Hades, hardtack is probably on the menu.

So friends, I leave with this question.  If you could eat supper with ONE figure from the Civil War, who would it be and why?  (Civilian, Military, or Political)  My answer will be on my next blog post.  Look for it on Thursday evening around 1900 hours.  But I'll give you a may be an unexpected person.

I respectfully submit this post for your culinary consideration.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Civil War Addict Miscellany and a Big Thank You!


I have a few matters I wanted to mention to you.  The blog now has its own Facebook page.  If you are of the mind, please stop by and "like" it.  I will be posting blog extras there from time to time.  I will also do the same with my google+ account.  I am also diving into the realm of podcasting (in conjunction with the online courses I will be teaching).  Once I have some that discuss Civil War matters, I will share those on the blog.  They might help with your insomnia!

As a writer, I am deeply humbled by the fact that people who are not relatives of mine are willing to read anything that I have written.  Your time is a precious thing and I am so incredibly honored that you think enough of it to read my ramblings or rantings, whichever the case may be.  June 14th marked the two month anniversary of the founding of this blog.  Thus far I have over 3,000 hits.  (And no, that is not counting my own views!)  I would like to personally thank each person who has taken time out of their busy lives to take a look at my blog.  And I have to say a special thank you to Eric Wittenberg of the Civil War Cavalry blog.  He mentioned my blog on his site right after I started and it really gave me an early boost and continues to direct traffic my way.  Thank you, sir!  And please go visit his site if you haven't already.

Mrs. Civil War Addict and I in Vicksburg.  (She is standing on the first step!)

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a humbled and honored Civil War Addict.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Civil War Music


I have to thank my little redhead for the inspiration for this post.  We were discussing what the best wartime song of all time was.  That got me thinking about the best Civil War music.  (Yes, when two history addicts get married, these are the kind of conversations they have.)  The Civil War gave us some wonderful tunes from the comical Goober Peas to the sentimental Just Before the Battle Mother.  And then there are the wartime parodies or adaptations of older songs.  (See: Listen to the Mockingbird vs. Twas At the Siege of Vicksburg)  Some, like The Battle Hymn of the Republic are still in use today.  Others are no longer "politically correct", like Dixie.  Then there are modern songs that reference the war, such as Sawyer Brown's classic Another Side.

Americans have always been fond of their music.  And it only makes sense that we would have plenty of musical memories from, arguably, the most traumatic time period in our history.  My great-grandmother knew plenty of wartime tunes that were still popular in her childhood in the first decade of the 20th Century.  She got to hear some of these songs sung by the old veterans themselves.  She really liked one in particular.

If I had to pick what my favorite Civil War era song was, I would have to say Lorena.  It was my great-grandmother's favorite, so maybe I am biased.  Yes, I can be hopelessly sentimental at times.  There are times when I get misty eyed and choked up when describing certain aspects of the war, so it is only right that I would prefer what is perhaps the best known "love song" from the war.

So that is my favorite Civil War era song.  What is yours?

My name is Lee Hutch and even though I am a Civil War Addict, I sometimes have to rely on my beautiful redheaded wife to come up with post ideas for me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Good News

I received a bit of good news this week.  I am officially going to be back in the classroom come the fall....sort of.  I was offered and accepted an adjunct position teaching some online classes for a local community college.  I naturally jumped at the opportunity.  I have never taught online before, but I am looking forward to the challenge.  I can't wait to start sharing my love of history with students again.

Teaching face to face classes isn't feasible for me because of the demands of my full time job, so I'm really looking forward to this.  I know this is only marginally related to the Civil War, so please accept my apologies for posting it.  But I wanted to share the good news.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Where Does It All Come From


Those of us that consider ourselves to be Civil War Addicts (or addicts of any other historical period for that matter) can frequently point to a certain time or event that gave birth to the addiction.  Other times, it develops slowly over many years until we wake up one day and can't remember how we got to where we are.  In my very first post I mentioned how I developed my Civil War Addiction.  But I've been thinking on that lately.

Yes, I checked out that Civil War book from the library when I was 5 years old.  It had a big red cover and no cover illustrations.  But why did I pick that book?  I could have just as easily picked up a book about a fire station or another Dick and Jane reader.  Why did I pick up the Civil War book?  Something must have drawn me to it.  Since it did not have any cover art though, that seems unlikely.

Was it fate or destiny?  Was it my ancestors drawing me towards them so that I might learn their stories and honor their memories?  Or was is just pure blind luck that I grabbed that book?  I don't know the answer.  But I do know this.  I don't believe in coincidences.

And believe me friends, there were plenty of times at reenactments as I lay shivering in my tent in wet clothes listening to the rain pound the canvas and hoping that the tent didn't collapse that I would have gladly gone back in time and left that book on the shelf!  But the feeling passed quickly.

Do you know where your Civil War Addiction (or that to any other period) comes from?

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.

(And Happy Father's Day to my dad, who always encouraged my love of history, no matter how odd he may have found it at times.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Civil War Games


In true Civil War Addict form, I have several Civil War era games.  When we visited Gettysburg in 1994, my brother and I purchased the Gettysburg board game.  I believe it was an Avalon Hill game.  Anyway, we got hours and hours of enjoyment out of it.  I still have the game, sans most of the pieces.  Otherwise, I'd still play it.  (Though I would have to let my hot redheaded wife win.  That is normally the smart thing to do when competing against a redheaded girl of German ancestry.)

I also have some games on the computer as well.  I still play Civil War General II along with the Sid Meier's Civil War (it has Gettysburg and Antietam).  I admit that I am old school when it comes to computer games.....and probably everything else.  I still play the Red Baron (1991) using the DOS Box.  It just seems like the modern games are so complex that it takes the enjoyment aspect out of them.  If I still had my Nintendo, I'd play the North and South game.  Anyone remember that one?  Great fun!

So my question for you today is this:  What is your favorite Civil War game?  (Board game or computer game.)

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a technologically challenged Civil War Addict.

Thursday, June 6, 2013



Today marks the 69th Anniversary of D-Day.  I know it has nothing to do with the Civil War, of course, but I thought it might be appropriate to mention it.  Many of the soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy were descendants of brave Confederate and Federal troops who fought at places like Shiloh and Gettysburg.  With that kind of blood in their veins, it is little wonder that they were able to take the beaches.

So take a minute today, if you haven't already, to remember our World War 2 veterans.  We loose more of them each day.  Soon there won't be any left.  Those of us who knew them will become the keepers of their stories.  Both of my grandfathers (along with great-uncles and cousins) served during the war.  I had one grandfather in each theater.  It is strange to think that if I have a grandchild, they will be as far removed from my grandfathers as I am from my Civil War ancestors.

As an update, the injection I got for my back didn't work.  I'm back to the same pain levels as before, but never fear, there will be a Civil War post this weekend.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Single Most Important Event


First I would like to offer my apologies for not having a new post earlier in the week.  I've been gearing up to have my cortisone injection in my back tomorrow.  I am afraid of two things.  Needles and Clowns.  Hopefully a person dressed as a clown won't be giving me the injection.

That out of the way, I've been thinking about all of the major events that took place during the war years.  Is one of them more important than another?  If you change the outcome of one event, would that change the outcome of the war?  If the North had not captured New Orleans, would that have made a difference?  What about a Confederate victory at Shiloh?  Or Antietam?

Is there a single event that is more important than all others?  And if so, what is it?

See, when you are a Civil War Addict, you think about this kind of stuff.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.