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Civil War Times: May 1997 Letters

Originally published by Civil War Times magazine. Published Online: September 23, 1997 
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Civil War Times
Civil War Times

Brothers In Arms

"The Midnight Cracker Line Attack" ("My War," June 1997) was very interesting, particularly the picture of the wooden coat of arms that Major Cate commissioned an artist to create. I have a very similar, but painted, document (about 23 feet by 8 feet) depicting the service of my great uncle who served in the Army of the Tennessee. I have only seen one other such document.

Donald W. Dumville
Southern Pines, North Carolina

Cold Harbor Con Men

The article about General Grant and the Battle of Cold Harbor ("Cover-up at Cold Harbor," June 1997) was very disturbing. I can't think of a battle that wasn't marked with blunders, drastic losses of men, and generals wishing they had a different plan of attack. If the author wants to make Grant and Lincoln a couple of con artists, he should write for the scandal magazines, not for Civil War Times.

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J.G. Rossman, Jr.
Edina, Minnesota

A Friend At Gettysburg

I was particularly interested in "Friends More Than Enemies" (June 1997) concerning Confederate Brigadier General John Randolph Chambliss, Jr., and Union Major General David McMurtrie Gregg.

I have been interested in Gregg's service since a local historian, the late Milton V. Burgess, published his book David Gregg: Pennsylvania Cavalryman. General Gregg was born and raised in central Pennsylvania. Mr. Burgess maintained that the cavalry skirmish outside of Gettysburg on the third day of the battle was of extreme importance in the outcome of the battle.

He said, "Pickett's charge was not an isolated affair, but a part of a great pincers movement, with [Confederate Major General J.E.B.] Stuart's cavalry as the other arm of the assault…. The Federal cavalry on the right wing at Gettysburg held Stuart…. The man who read Stuart's mind as to the point of attack and who concentrated the force that stopped him was General Gregg."

Sally Wright
Woodbury, Pennsylvania

The Monitor

I enjoyed your articles on the Monitor (June 1997), and it was especially gratifying to see its birthplace listed correctly as Greenpoint, Brooklyn, instead of Long Island. During the Civil War era, Brooklyn's Greenpoint section had some 35 percent of its working population in the shipbuilding trade, and its many shipyards there included the Continental Iron Works on Calyer Street, where the Monitor took shape. The Brooklyn Navy Yard fitted in the ironclad's Dahlgren guns.

Bud Livingston
Glendale, New York

Mr. Timby did indeed draw a design for a revolving turret several decades before the Monitor was built. I will accept at face value that a model was built and put on display. That doesn't make him the inventor of the turreted ship idea, nor of the Monitor's turret in particular. Ericsson had also been drawing turreted ship designs for a number of years. The original designs were hemispherical or mushroom in shape. Furthermore, you can't patent a concept; you can only patent a specific version of a concept. Timby was undoubtedly a brilliant designer. But it was Ericsson–annoying, antagonistic, egotistical, and irascible Ericsson–who designed and had built the world's first turreted warship. Flawed though she was, she was a success, and the Monitor revolutionized naval warfare.

Bob Sandusky
Esperance, New York

Case Closed

For years now I have unsuccessfully pondered the myriad issues and events that led up to the Civil War. Not until recently, however, have I been able to find resolution. Mr. Terry McKay ("Letters," June 1997) has finally been able to bring closure to this monumental event for all of us. He has, with uncanny skill, been able to sift through all of the social, economic, emotional, and regional differences that one would have thought had bearing on the conflict, and has cleared up the matter once and for all: the North had a population of 22 million, and they were right; and the South had a population of 5 million and slavery, and they were wrong.

This certainly has clarified everything for me, and I would assume for Civil War Times Illustrated as well. Since we can now put this nation-defining moment behind us, I for one can see no further need for your fine publication.

It is also clear that the balance of us simple-minded dolts should quit wasting our time with this silly Civil War history thing and get on to more important issues, like just who will make it to the World Series. Thank you for a fine, well-balanced publication.

Dave Van Meter
Arcadia, California

Erratum

August: "Antietam: A Landscape for Time Travel"–Admission to Antietam National Battlefield was listed as free. Not so–there is a $2 charge per person.

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