Letters from Readers- February 2015 Civil War Times | HistoryNet MENU

Letters from Readers- February 2015 Civil War Times

12/13/2016 • Civil War Times Magazine

Fantastic Field Book

 I was very glad to see the December “Battlefields & Beyond” about the Confederate blockade of the Potomac River. I have been interested in that operation for many years. My great-grandfather Samuel Sydney Gause Jr., was involved in that operation. He was a private in Company G of the 1st Arkansas Infantry, the Jacksonport Guards. He was a newly minted lawyer, having graduated from Cumberland University School of Law in December 1860, but he also knew surveying, and he was appointed to survey the Potomac River forts.

I have his surveyor’s field book. There are about 15 pages of field notes of bearings and distances along roads, with descriptions, measurements and sketches that he combined into maps, such as the one shown here. All four batteries are shown, including the one at Cockpit Point and two at Evansport,which was just Mr. Evans’ house, a landing and several warehouses.

There is a book describing the operation, The Confederate Blockade of Washington, D.C., 1861-1862, by Mary Alice Wills, Burd Street Press, 1973. However, it is focused entirely on the U.S. reaction. There is some C.S. information in the Official Records, and I have a Xerox copy of another map that identifies the regiments occupying each campsite shown on this map. There is also a discussion of it by W.E. Bevins, also in Company G, in his little book Reminiscences of a Private.

Thanks for adding more information to my file on this operation.

—Ed Thackston

 Nashville, Tenn.

Grant the Opportunist

 I enjoyed Evan Jones’ article in your October issue on U.S. Grant’s conduct toward William Rosecrans at Iuka. Grant’s revered reputation has always astounded me. In my opinion, he was an ambitious, opportunistic man who continuously “back stabbed” other officers or took credit for their accomplishments. Vastly overrated in history, he rode his lone attribute—he would fight—to undeserved heights. If not for his hometown political connection to the powerful Congressman Elihu Washburne, Grant would not even have been a footnote to history. The fabrication of his role at Chattanooga and subsequent denigration of George H. Thomas is much worse that what he did at Iuka.

 —Robert J. Dwyer

 Travelers Rest, S.C

Serendipity

 Thanks for highlighting Cockpit Point in the December issue. On the day I received my copy of Civil War Times, we received the deed to the Cockpit Point battlefield. I’m happy to report Prince William County owns the property, and we’ll start working on an interpretive plan and allowing public access to the fortifications.

 —Robert Orrison

 Historic Site Operations Supervisor, Prince William County, Va., Historic Preservation Division

Election Addition

In your December 2014 issue, you included a “Close Call?” item [P. 17] and an accompanying electoral map about the 1864 Presidential Election. The map shows Nevada with two electoral votes. It actually had three, the minimum any state could ever have (based on two senators and one representative). The map also shows incorrect Lincoln margins of victory in two states. His margin in Michigan was 10.2 percent, not 7.2 percent, and in Pennsylvania 3.3 percent, not 3.5 percent. These figures come from Congressional Quarterly’s Presidential Elections, 1789-1996.

More significant, the item and map do not reveal the bottom line: the switch of a mere 29,935 votes in certain states out of the 4,031,195 votes cast nationwide (less than 1 percent of the national vote) would have given the election to McClellan by one electoral vote. This is significant because, despite the appearance of a landslide Lincoln victory, McClellan came close to winning— even though the Union had captured Atlanta and Mobile Bay and swept through the Shenandoah Valley in the months before the election. A McClellan victory would have had dire consequences for Emancipation and possibly Union victory.

 —Ed Bonekemper

 Willow Street, Pa.

 I went through the electoral map in the December 2014 issue and found that you gave President Lincoln not 212 electoral votes but 220 electoral votes.

I believe you counted Michigan’s electoral votes twice. See P. 17; there is an 8 outside Michigan.

 —Michael Bamford

 Newburyport, Mass.

 Infographic author David Fuller responds: Mr. Bonekemper is correct that Nevada had three electoral votes. Only two of those electoral votes were cast in the election, however, because a snowstorm apparently prevented one of the electors from voting.

The different margin percentages for Michigan and Pennsylvania can be explained by which sources were used. The state popular vote numbers we used were from David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (uselectionatlas.org), in which he claims to use primary source material (state returns) and Congressional Quarterly’s Presidential Elections, 1789-2000. There is indeed a discrepancy between the numbers given on Leip’s website and the numbers Mr. Bonekemper used—resulting in the different percentage results he quotes. The reason for the difference would require further in-depth research and analysis.

As to Mr. Bamford’s letter, he’s mistakenly counted the electoral vote symbol that is part of the map key (located just outside Michigan) to get his total of 220. Nowhere do I claim Lincoln received 220 electoral votes—if you look at the bar graph in the lower right-hand corner, we clearly show that the Electoral Vote was 212 vs. 21.

 

Originally published in the February 2015 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.

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