America?s Civil War: September 1996 Letters | HistoryNet MENU

America?s Civil War: September 1996 Letters

9/23/1996 • Archives, Jefferson Davis

America's Civil War
America's Civil War

Why not do research for individual articles that point out howwomen played their part in the Civil War such as the making ofuniforms, etc. How and from where was material obtained? Whatwas the setup for clothing mills at that time: down South andup North. In what role did women play in the gathering of notonly medical war supplies but food for their families and soldiers?

Your Civil War magazine basically covers "combat." Womenhad a role back then, you know.

Catherine Desmond
Springfield, OR

Dear Ms. Desmond:
You make a good point about the various contributions of women,Northern and Southern, during the Civil War. Please check ourpast issues, and you will see that we have tried to recognizethat important role by running articles on such topics as thewomen of the South and First Ladies at War, as well as articleson such noted individuals as "Crazy Bet" Van Lew, MotherBickerdyke, Elizabeth Keckley (Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker/confidante),Harriet Hawley, Anna Carroll, Julia Ward Howe, and the "PetticoatCavalry" of Tennessee. A new article on Captain Sally Tompkins(the only woman to hold a military commission in the ConfederateArmy), is slated to appear in the May 1997 issue. We don’t havea specific article planned on uniform-making–perhaps you’d liketo send us one.

This is to compliment you on your selection of Clyde Heron’s paintingsfor your cover and article on Bedford Forrest for your September1996 edition. In the past I have written to plead you run lesspaintings and more photos, since there is no question very oldphotos say assuredly, "This is the way it was," andare works of art if only for their age.

But Heron’s paintings have an understated clarity that looks likethey were "taken" by one of Forrest’s men who had aNikon camera with Ektachrome film loaded. Please use this man’swork as much as you can.

Ray Bishop
N. Hollywood, CA

Dear Mr. Bishop:
Many thanks for your kind words, and I’m sure Clyde Heron thanksyou as well. We at America’s Civil War work extremely hard toillustrate our articles with a mixture of paintings, photographs,maps and sketches, all designed to best complement the story athand. Clyde Heron and the other talented artists whose work wefeature add immensely to our efforts, by helping lend a humanizingvisual touch to our writers’ well-chosen words. If one pictureis not necessarily worth a thousand words, it is certainly equallyvaluable–as you so graciously point out.

Is there any person on your staff who can identify the Civil Wargenerals shown in pictures in your magazine? In the September1996 issue, the Ely Parker article has a painting of the surrenderat Appomattox. Lee and his aide (presumably Walter Taylor) areon the left. To their left, a group of Union officers–Sheridan,Gibbon (is he the one in front, or the back?), and possibly Griffinwith blond hair. Wesley Merritt sits behind Grant, and Custerstands next to Parker. As a Civil War buff, I enjoy your magazineand try to pick out who is who. Any help you can give would bemuch appreciated.

Jean M. Morton
Washougal, WA

Dear Ms. Morton:
You are partially right. The identities of all those picturedin the Tom Lovell painting are, left to right: General RobertE. Lee, Lt. Col. Charles Marshall, Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan, ColonelOrville E. Babcock, Lt. Col. Horace Porter, Maj. Gen. Edward O.C.Ord, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Maj. Gen. Seth Williams, ColonelTheodore S. Bowers, Colonel Ely S. Parker and Maj. Gen. GeorgeA. Custer.

Perhaps I am more interested in your questionnaire than many ofyour readers may be because I am an author, most recently ofHearts of Conflict: A One-Volume History of the Civil War,and I have done two stretches as a magazine editor–of ThePointer, West Point’s cadet magazine, and The InfantrySchool Quarterly. Put differently, I may have more to say,or I may be more inclined to comment on things not called forin your survey, than the format allows.

I can say, however, that I have been favorably impressed bythe tone you are maintaining. You seem to be editing for whatJefferson Davis used to call "the thinking people of thiscountry," and I think this is the way to fly.

As an author, I can’t help turning first to your book reviews,and the next thing I read is your editorial. What got me intothe latter habit was a piece six months or so ago in which youpointed out the excesses of revisionists in bestowing sainthoodon Lincoln, Lee, Jackson, and I forget who else. I found thisparticularly encouraging because I was working on a book thatdeals with more than usual candor with Lincoln’s performance asa war manager.

As to other categories of articles my personal preference wouldbe profiles of neglected but highly admirable persons–Union Brig.Gen. Herman Haupt, for example–or universally (but possibly unfairly)condemned figures such as Henry Halleck or maybe Braxton Bragg,men who are not thought worthy of full-scale biographies, butwhose stories readers jaded by recycles of Lincoln, Lee, et. al,might relish.

You have undoubtedly been thinking about what the Internet andother computer-related advances may mean to persons interestedin the Civil War, so please pardon me for suggesting that someof your readers, at least, might appreciate an article now andthen, if not a column, on developments and trends. also, the daymay not be far off when you will be reviewing CD-ROM releasesas well as books.

This response may be too subjective to be useful and personalto the point of being boring, but it comes with thanks for yourachievements and my best wishes for your continued success.

Curt Anders
Garrison, NY

Dear Mr. Anders:
Letters such as yours obviously make our day,and as TheHistoryNet shows, we have indeed been thinking aboutthe Internet–more than thinking, as our Editorial Director, RogerVance, would surely say. As for your suggestions about possibletopics of interest, we have already done an Ordnance Departmentarticle on Herman Haupt and his bridge-builders, as well as afull-length feature on the snake-bitten Confederate general, BraxtonBragg. The editor shares your opinion that there are many less-well-knownindividuals whose stories we need to cover, even as we give appropriateattention to the Civil War giants such as Lee and Lincoln. Allplayed a role in the war that shaped–and still shapes–our nation.Many thanks for your kind and thoughtful words.