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America's Civil War

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

Your Civil War magazine basically covers “combat.” Women had 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 our past issues, and you will see that we have tried to recognize that important role by running articles on such topics as the women of the South and First Ladies at War, as well as articles on such noted individuals as “Crazy Bet” Van Lew, Mother Bickerdyke, Elizabeth Keckley (Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker/confidante),Harriet Hawley, Anna Carroll, Julia Ward Howe, and the “Petticoat Cavalry” of Tennessee. A new article on Captain Sally Tompkins(the only woman to hold a military commission in the Confederate Army), is slated to appear in the May 1997 issue. We don’t have a specific article planned on uniform-making–perhaps you’d like to send us one.

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

But Heron’s paintings have an understated clarity that looks like they were “taken” by one of Forrest’s men who had a Nikon camera with Ektachrome film loaded. Please use this man’s work 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 thanks you as well. We at America’s Civil War work extremely hard to illustrate our articles with a mixture of paintings, photographs,maps and sketches, all designed to best complement the story at hand. Clyde Heron and the other talented artists whose work we feature add immensely to our efforts, by helping lend a humanizing visual touch to our writers’ well-chosen words. If one picture is not necessarily worth a thousand words, it is certainly equally valuable–as you so graciously point out.

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

Jean M. Morton
Washougal, WA

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

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

I can say, however, that I have been favorably impressed by the tone you are maintaining. You seem to be editing for what Jefferson Davis used to call “the thinking people of this country,” 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 into the latter habit was a piece six months or so ago in which you pointed out the excesses of revisionists in bestowing sainthood on Lincoln, Lee, Jackson, and I forget who else. I found this particularly encouraging because I was working on a book that deals with more than usual candor with Lincoln’s performance as a war manager.

As to other categories of articles my personal preference would be 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, but whose stories readers jaded by recycles of Lincoln, Lee, et. al,might relish.

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

This response may be too subjective to be useful and personal to the point of being boring, but it comes with thanks for your achievements 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 about the Internet–more than thinking, as our Editorial Director, Roger Vance, would surely say. As for your suggestions about possible topics of interest, we have already done an Ordnance Department article on Herman Haupt and his bridge-builders, as well as a full-length feature on the snake-bitten Confederate general, Braxton Bragg. The editor shares your opinion that there are many less-well-known individuals whose stories we need to cover, even as we give appropriate attention to the Civil War giants such as Lee and Lincoln. All played a role in the war that shaped–and still shapes–our nation.Many thanks for your kind and thoughtful words.