On Churchill, Grant—and Socks
I have less respect for Winston Churchill after reading his half-baked criticisms of U.S. Grant (see “Blue&Gray,” by Gary W. Gallagher, in the August issue). From May 1864, Grant fought a successful defense in the Wilderness, came near to defeating Lee at Spotsylvania, wisely did not take Lee’s bait at North Anna, and at Cold Harbor made his single error (one that he acknowledged, and that was less damaging than the similar error R.E. Lee made at Gettysburg).
As for Petersburg, which was far from being a static siege, Grant continually tested Lee’s lines, forcing the Confederate commander to stretch them to the breaking point—after which Grant relentlessly pursued Lee to end the war. If the Brits had had a general of Grant’s caliber during World War I, it would have been won sooner, with a smaller butcher’s bill.
Regarding the patriotic socks featured in last issue’s “Old & Sold,” did anyone notice the significance of the U.S. Flag’s being knit on the shank, while the Stars and Bars were knit on the soles—presumably so that, with every step, the wearer could tread on the Rebel flag?
Too Many Roosevelts?
Regarding the “Stonewall and FDR” letter in the August issue, I wanted to point out that John Robert Baldwin, who wrote about an error in the list of officials who visited the burial spot of Jackson’s arm, is wrong and author Chris Mackowski is technically correct. The assistant secretary of the Navy who visited the site with President Warren G. Harding was indeed Theodore Roosevelt—but it was the son of the ex-president, TR Jr., who held the office from 1921 to 1924. Franklin held that office during the Woodrow Wilson Administration.
James A. Pabian
Spring Green, Wisc.
I believe I can clarify which is the right Roosevelt: the eldest son of TR, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who was a Republican and assistant secretary of the Navy. Later he served as the governor of Puerto Rico and governor-general of the Philippine Islands.
Writing as a 99-year-old World War II veteran, I also would like to point out that on D-Day in 1944, TR Jr. was the first general on Utah Beach. In the movie The Longest Day , he was portrayed by Henry Fonda.
Share the Love
Like most people who have read The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, or the Civil War novels by his son, Jeff, I have great regard for Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. I was also, however, very pleased to read the piece about Culp’s Hill and Colonel David Ireland in the August 2013 issue (see “Thoughts&Comments”). He is often forgotten.
In the August interview with Donald C. Pfanz about General Richard Ewell [see “Q&A,” by Chris Howland] he misstated which type of explosive was used by the Federals to create the Petersburg Crater. The explosive was black powder rather than dynamite, which would not be invented until after the Civil War.
Boiling Springs, S.C.
August 2013 was another great issue. But why didn’t the “Lights, Camera…Abe-Mania” article include a mention of a made-for-TV movie called Special Kind of Tribute, starring Jason Robards, that aired in the early 1990s? In it, a young noncombatant Confederate unwittingly ends up reading a newspaper version out loud to Lincoln.
Editor Dana Shoaf replies: If author Megan Kate Nelson had included mentions of all the film productions about Lincoln in her article, she would still be writing! Her focus was on the very recent surge of interest in Lincoln reflected in the media.
Originally published in the October 2013 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.