Calling the oyster cops

I read with interest your article on the CSS Shenandoah and Captain James I. Waddell (March 2010). Your readers might be interested to know that Captain Waddell was commander of the Maryland State Oyster Police from 1884 to 1886. The force was founded in 1868, and its first commander, Hunter Davidson, was also a veteran of the Confederate Navy who served on the CSS Virginia and two other vessels during the war. The Maryland State Oyster Police was the forerunner of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, making it one of the oldest conservation law enforcement agencies in the country.

Corporal Max Schulte

Maryland Natural Resources Police

Betting on hallowed ground

On March 18, the Board of Supervisors of Cumberland Township in Adams County, Pa., voted unanimously to allow the development of a gambling casino about six-tenths of a mile from the Gettysburg National Military Park boundary. The proposed site is on the famous Emmitsburg Road, which is also the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Trail.

One of the supervisors who voted in favor of the motion was Randy Phiel, a member of the group responsible for the annual re-enactment of the Gettysburg battle. I cannot understand how anyone so closely associated with Gettysburg’s Civil War history could support this casino.

Mr. Phiel’s vote totally ignores the many Gettysburg/Adams County retail merchants who have joined Businesses Against the Casino, plus the opposition of thousands of re-enactors and visitors who come every year to our hallowed ground. A sad day indeed for Gettysburg, the battle field and all those who love and respect this most special place in our nation’s history.

Dan Siderio

Gettysburg, Pa.

Who’s the greatest?

I agree with the letter from Steve Kohn in the May 2010 issue that you folks have done a marvelous job with this magazine. However, Mr. Kohn makes reference to “one of our greatest presidents,” and I am at a loss to know if he refers to James Buchanan or Andrew Johnson, as there were only three presidents of the Civil War period. Most historians do not rate either of them as outstanding, although Buchanan’s policy (and natural events) would probably have solved the problems of slavery and secession had it been continued by the incoming administration in March 1861. Johnson’s low rating is likely undeserved since he served during the critical Reconstruction period. A number of chief executives have performed service superior to Buchanan and Johnson. My listing would place them somewhere in the middle range, giving Buchanan an edge.

William W. Siler

Morro Bay, Calif.

Editor’s note: True, there were three presidents in the Civil War era, so perhaps Mr. Kohn was referring to the one who actually served during the war itself. For more on James Buchanan’s unenviable historical reputation, see “Could This Man Have Stopped the War?” on page 36.

Correction: The news item “Unknown soldier to receive a place of honor” in Open Fire!, November 2009, mistakenly referred to “the Union retreat from Nashville in December 1864.” It was the Confederates who retreated after the Battle of Nashville on December 16.


Originally published in the July 2010 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.