Picture perfect (?)
The article “Buying Time” in your July 2011 issue shows a picture of Corporal Henry O’Brien, who raised the 1st Minnesota Infantry’s regimental flag and charged Pickett’s army at Gettysburg. Why is he wearing an officer’s uniform?
Norman L. Fish
Henry O’Brien was a corporal when he led the charge at Gettysburg, but the photo was taken after his promotion to lieutenant in 1864, when the 1st mustered out and 135 of its veterans formed the 1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry Volunteers. O’Brien sustained a chest wound at Deep Bottom, Va., on August 14, 1864, but survived the war to become the postmaster in his hometown of St. Anthony, Minn., and later a federal pension agent in St. Louis.
The caption to the photograph of the Mouton family in “We Are All Rebels,” by Jim Bradshaw (July 2011), claims that it is an antebellum image of Henriette Odéide Mouton and her siblings. The image is clearly post-bellum as the girls are wearing bustles, which only came into fashion well after the Civil War. The girls’ hairstyles are also indicative of the post-war period, as women did not wear bangs before the Civil War. Despite this small error, I enjoyed the issue immensely. Keep up with the good work!
Michelle L. Hamilton
Department of History— Graduate Program, San Diego State University
Jim Bradshaw replies: Members of the Mouton family are satisfied that the people in the photograph are correctly identified, based on other photos and family tradition. It could not have been taken after the war since Marie Cecelia (standing, left), sister of Henriette Odéide (standing, right), died in 1863. Paul Joseph Julien, the young boy in the center of the photo, was born in 1848. He appears to be 10 years old or a little younger. That would date the photograph to the mid-to-late-1850s.
Aloha Oe (Farewell to you)
Hawaii’s state anthem also has politically incorrect lyrics like those cited in “Legends” in your May 2011 issue. Written in 1874 by King David Kalakaua, the song is a royalist anthem, not suited to a democratic state. The Hawaiian words are taught in the schools: “Hawai i pono (Hawaii’s own true sons) / Nana i kou moi (Be loyal to your king) / Ka lani ali i (Your country’s liege and lord) / Ke ali i (The chief).” The students do not realize what they are singing! When it is part of a public program, I refuse to sing it. Why yearn for a deceased king, Kamehameha (a contemporary of George Washington), who was a brutal sovereign not elected by the people? Hawaii should do better. I don’t object to learning the song as part of the islands’ heritage, but don’t sing it as the state anthem in the 21st century, please!
Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.