Archive for September, 2011

Re-enactor retires after 20 years

A fight between two Confederate and two Union soldiers following a friendly poker game led to a skirmish that left most of the 72nd New York Infantry “dead” or “dying” on a field during Colusa Civil War Days on Saturday. Susan Meeker/Tri-County Newspapers

After 20 years re-enacting the drama of the American Civil War, Rosario Roberts of Los Molinos is giving up salt pork and hardtack.

His organization, Re-enactors of the American Civil War, has been recreating Civil War battles, as well as camp and civilian life from that time period since 1991.

The organization finds re-enacting the Civil War gives the public a unique glimpse into the past.

“It’s time to retire,” said Roberts, after one of four battles between Confederate and Union troops at the Colusa County Fairgrounds this past weekend. “I really loved doing this. Re-enacting the Civil War makes history come to life.”

Roberts portrayed Henri Paltron, cook for the New York 72nd Infantry, during the three-day Civil War Days in Colusa, and served as master of ceremony for the battle on Saturday.

Roberts’ character was captured by Union troops early in the war when New Orleans fell to the North, and he was forced to sign an oath of allegiance and fight for the Union.

For three days, Roberts and dozens of members of Re-enactors of the American Civil War, a Northern California nonprofit group, recreated drama from the most turbulent period in U.S. history.

“Most do this because they love the history or had family who fought in the Civil War,” Roberts said. “My wife and I both have great-grandfathers who fought in the Civil War.”

The organization hopes to return to Colusa next year with a presentation at the Sacramento River Recreation Area.

Re-enactors of the American Civil War has a sizable following of enthusiastic participants, young and old, who are willing to brave the elements and spend their own money in an effort to duplicate the events down to the smallest recorded detail.

Re-enactors invest in their own costumes and equipment when they enlist in the organization’s military units, which include U.S. sharpshooters and cavalry, Confederate and Union infantry, as well as other military groups, refugees and civilians.

“The first thing I did when I signed up was buy myself a cannon,” said RACW President Craig Poundstone, who portrays real life Union Capt.. Benjamin Rickenhouse, a West Point graduate with the Battery D, 5th U.S. Artillery.

Members, some as young as 13, are involved in re-enactment.

“I’m crazy about everything military,” said Giancarlo Nandino, 16, of Red Bluff. “I love Civil War history. The first time I saw a re-enactment in school I knew it was something I wanted to do.”

Nandino, whose parents supported his unusual hobby, enlisted in the 72nd New York Infantry, which battled the 1st Texas and 42nd Virginia Infantry groups Saturday and Sunday at the Colusa County Fairgrounds.

Tom Lemoine, 20, of Shingletown, is another new youngster to take over as older members, such as Roberts, retire.

“I’ve wanted to do this my whole life,” said Lemoine, who portrays an Alabama Infantryman named Tommy. “I finally got the chance.”

Thalia Fowler of Colusa, a RACW member for nine years, is one of many women participants.

“I have several personas, including Emily Todd Helm, the sister-in-law to Abraham Lincoln, and a Confederate nurse,” Fowler said. “My grandmother always said, ‘no rebs allowed.’ So naturally, I always wanted to be a rebel.”

Other women, like Lillian Hearne of Happy Valley disguised themselves as men in order to fight, just as many women did,

“They estimated about 4,000 women fought in the Civil War,” said Hearne, whose German Shepherd mix “Sampson” followed her into battle.

In addition to the re-enactment, the organization participated in the memorial ceremony Saturday at the Colusa Community Cemetery, where the Colusa Heritage Preservation Committee held an vacant chair ceremony for a Union and Confederate soldier.

Re-enactor Pat Parsons of Los Molinos said the ceremony makes his hobby more meaningful, especially since the Union solider recognized was John Willing, a Civil War veteran of the 72nd New York Infantry.

“It’s good to see a community do this,” Parson said. “It brings unity and closure. It’s nice that these men were honored.”

More than 130 Civil War veterans are buried in the Colusa cemetery.

John Thomas Scoot was the Confederate soldier honored.

The Rev. Malcom White conducted the ceremony.

Civil War-era balloon technology still used in battle

Prof. Lowe ascending in the Intrepid to observe the Battle of Fair Oaks. Photo by Matthew Brady

WASHINGTON – During the civil war, the Union Army Balloon Corps performed aerial reconnaissance on the Confederate Army.

Fast forward today and “the U.S. military is deploying balloons in wars zones today,” says John Deperro, balloon enthusiast and Civil War reenactor with the Union Army Balloon Corps.

He says the best you can get out of an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV is about 36 hours.

“In fact, there is a northern Virginia company that will be deploying a 370-foot balloon next month in Afghanistan to sit in and orbit over Kabul at 20,000 feet for five days at a time,” he says.

Kevin Knapp, another Civil War balloon enthusiast and professional balloon pilot says the Union Army had seven balloons and nine balloonists.

“They were no hot air balloons. Balloons at the time were gas balloons,” Knapp says.

He says the Union Army Balloon Corps formed after Thaddeus Lowe, who became commander of the corps, met with President Lincoln for a demonstration in June 1861.

They used their balloons to perform aerial reconnaissance on the Confederate armies. With the balloons tethered, they could send a telegraph wire down the rope and to the commanders, giving them real time intelligence.

Deperro says ballooning lessons learned during the Civil War have many applications today by American armed forces deployed overseas.

WTOP’s Kathy Stewart contributed to this report.

Civil War grudge should not affect university mascot

By Molly Skyles Truman State University Index

Truman State should remove the Bulldog as its official mascot. Once, when I was 8 years old, a bulldog bit my finger and drooled on my new sneakers. It was a traumatizing life event and I really would appreciate it if the bulldog were to be replaced with something less distasteful. A butterfly might be nice.

Okay, of course I’m going a bit overboard, but how ridiculous does this sound? Just about as ridiculous as the tiny Missouri town of Osceola, I assume. Osceola, population 950, located in southwest Missouri, is asking the University of Kansas to drop its Jayhawk mascot because of a 150-year-old grudge.

In 1861, approximately 2,000 Jayhawkers attacked Osceola, killing hundreds and destroying the town, according to a Sept. 18 Kansas City Star article. The Jayhawkers were anti-slavery, guerrilla fighters in a border war with the pro-slavery state of Missouri during the Civil War era. The city of Osceola claims they never have been able to rebuild their population and apparently the Jayhawk to them is similar to saying “bomb” on an airplane.

Maybe this grudge is a little (note the use of “little”) more understandable than my bulldog anecdote. Yes, many people were killed, but still, this happened 150 years ago. During the last century and a half, this country has faced two world wars and currently is dealing with a battle regarding terrorism, but what are our concerns — fear that the blue and red bird with the yellow boots who dances around throwing free T-shirts to the crowds at KU games is going to bring up old Civil War wounds?

Today, a Jayhawk also is a nickname for someone born in Kansas. While I’m not from Kansas, even though Osceola is making me wish I wasn’t from Missouri, I would assume that knowing you come from an anti-slavery state would be something on which to pride yourself, and what better way than with the name Jayhawk?

In Osceola’s resolution to KU, they also are requesting Missourians stop spelling Kansas and KU with a capital letter, because it “neither is a proper name or a proper place,” Osceola Mayor Larry Hutsler said.

Osceola has some nerve. They were not quite innocent all those years ago. Osceola was pro-slavery and angry that the Jayhawkers had the guts to stand up to their inhuman ways. I’m sure many innocent people were killed, but it was the Civil War. Osceola was not the only casualty. The fact that they are this concerned about defending their “victim” stance on the attack makes me question their modern-day beliefs. Not to say they still are pro-slavery, but wouldn’t you at least be a little ashamed that your town believed in slavery and it took a horrific event like the Jayhawkers attack to make them change their ways? There is no point in bringing up old news, old embarrassing news at that.

KU is not the only university that has received negative attention regarding their mascot. The Florida State UniversitySeminoles, Central Michigan University Chippewas, Miami University Redhawks, University of North Dakota “Fighting Sioux” and University of Utah Utes all have been targets of Native American upset, and rightfully so. A man with face paint and feathers in his hair wearing animal hide is offensive to the traditional Native Americans who still exist on reservations throughout the country. A cartoon bird decked out in primary colors and big yellow boots, though, is just laughable.

Lighten up, people. I’m sure the Jayhawkers did a lot of damage in Osceola some 150 years ago, but times have changed. Slavery is wrong, wars still are happening that deserve your modern-day attention and Kansas cannot be to blame for your low population.

Molly Skyles is a senior communication major from St. Louis

Is Nicolas Cage immortal? Actor’s amazing Civil War doppelganger posted on eBay … and it’s yours for only $1million

  • Antique photo dealer wants huge price for 1870 photo of Tennessee man
  • EBay seller Jack Mörd says it’s a genuine 4” by 2.5” carte de visite photo
  • Picture was found in back of album of death portraits from Civil War era
By MARK DUELL UK Daily Mail The antique dealer jokes that his photo is proof Nicholas Cage is more than just an a-list actor – he’s also a vampire who lived during the American Civil War.

An eBay seller claims to have a 4” by 2.5” carte de visite photo from around 1870 of a man who looks exactly like the 47-year-old star of Con Air, Ghost Rider and The Rock.

This 1870 image has a strong resemblence to 47-year old actor Nicholas Cage

The seller, who has put the starting price at $1million, says the photo is 100 per cent genuine and was taken of a man who lived in Bristol, Tennessee, around the time of the Civil War.

The man who put the photo on eBay is Jack Mörd, of Seattle, Washington, whose Facebook page says he is originally from Los Angeles, California, and owns ‘The Thanatos Archive’.

‘My theory is that he allows himself to age to a certain point, maybe 70, 80 or so, then the actor “Nicolas Cage” will “die”,’ Mr Mörd joked.

‘But in reality, the undead vampire “Nicolas Cage” will have rejuvenated himself and appeared in some other part of the world, young again, and ready to start all over.’

The picture was found in the back of an album that contained many unusual death portraits from the Civil War era – but the Nicholas Cage lookalike was not identified by name, Mr Mörd said.

He has a 100 per cent positive feedback rating on eBay and his profile says he is interested in collecting and selling Victorian Era post-mortem photography, as well as other vintage pictures.

The eBay product description for ‘Nicolas Cage is a Vampire / Photo from 1870 / Tennessee’ says: ‘Original c.1870 carte de visit showing a man who looks exactly like Nick Cage.

‘This is not a trick photo of any kind and has not been manipulated in Photoshop or any other graphics program.

‘It’s an original photo of a man who lived in Bristol, TN, sometime around the Civil War.’

It is believed the photo was taken by a confederate Civil War prisoner of war photographer called Professor G.B. Smith.

Mr Mörd joked that Nicholas Cage could be a walking undead man who reinvents himself once every 75 years – and might be looking at going into politics or talk show hosting next.

National organization recognizes battlefield preservation champions from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee

(Chattanooga, Tenn.)
 – During a ceremony this evening Fairyland Club on Lookout Mountain, the Civil War Trust, a national battlefield preservation organization, will recognize three outstanding historic preservation advocates with its Chairman’s Awards for Achievement.  The awards, presented by the Trust’s chairman, Henry E. Simpson, will honor Alabama historian Daniel Fulenwider, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park historian James Ogden and Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association executive director Mary Ann Peckham.

“The long term commitment to historic preservation and education demonstrated by each member of this trio is inspirational,” said Simpson.  “Their enthusiasm for American history knows no bounds and their work will continue to benefit the public for generations to come.”

For more than two decades, Daniel Fulenwider of Cullman County, Ala., has worked to promote appreciation and understanding of “Streight’s Raid” — Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest’s pursuit of Col. Abel D. Streight across north Alabama in the spring of 1863.  He has led tours of the campaign for military personnel from 27 countries and has traversed the entire route, from Mississippi to Georgia, on foot.  He was instrumental in orchestrating the Trust’s efforts to purchase of land at Hog Mountain, scene of fighting during the Battle of Day’s Gap, and continues to be involved in efforts to promote and interpret the site.

Mary Ann Peckham is the Executive Director of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association a statewide organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Tennessee Civil War Battlefields.   She retired from the National Park Service in December 2000, after serving in six National Park areas.  Her final assignment was as Superintendent of Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tenn.  In addition to her work with TCWPA, she is active with a number of area conservation organizations, including serving on the advisory board of the Southeast Region of the Land Trust for Tennessee.

Since 1988, James Ogden has been the historian for Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.  Earlier in his career, he done interpretive and research work for the Maryland Park Service at Point Lookout State Park, site of the largest Civil War prison, and for the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Russell Cave National Monument and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  Ogden speaks regularly on aspects of the Civil War to historical organizations and leads tours of battlefields throughout Georgia and Tennessee.  He has taught Civil War history courses for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, published a variety of articles and appeared on both A&E’s “Civil War Journal” and the History Channel’s “Civil War Combat.”

Beyond his involvement with the Civil War Trust, Simpson is a member of the law firm Adams and Reese/Lange Simpson, LLP in Birmingham, Ala.  He has previously served as a lecturer at the University of Alabama, the state chairman of the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society and the state chairman of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.  To date, the Trust has preserved nearly 30,000 acres of battlefield in 20 states.  Learn more at, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.

Pursuit – by Dean Urdahl

Pursuit - by Dean Urdahl






Pursuit is an interesting novel by Dean Urdahl. A fictionalized account of the 1862-1863 battles against the Dakota Indians. Urdahl uses the fiction to bring out the action – everything is accurate historically. Compare this to the Killer Angels by Michael Schaara. Available in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Museum on wheels brings Civil War to Eastern Shore

by the Eastern Shore News

ONANCOCK –Civil War history is on the move in Virginia as its custom 18-wheel Civil War HistoryMobile rolls into the Eastern Shore for a three-day visit Sept. 6-11.

An initiative of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the Civil War Commission, this walk-through museum on wheels will be at the Barrier Islands Center in Machipongo Sept. 6-8 and at Ker Place Historic House Museum in Onancock Sept. 9-11.

The HistoryMobile’s appearance is part of the “Observations and Disco-veries of the Civil War” events sponsored by the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society.

The HistoryMobile contains a high-tech imm-ersive experience detailing Virginia’s incomparable place in Civil War history. The exhibits were designed through a partnership between the Fredericks-burg/Spotsylvania National Battlefields Park and the Virginia Historical Society and examine Virginia’s Civil War history from the viewpoints of soldiers, civilians and slaves. The HistoryMobile is also supported by the Virginia Tourism Corporation through which visitors can obtain information on visiting Virginia Civil War sites at the exhibit, as well as by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Visitors will encounter history in ways they may have never experienced as they are confronted in the Battlefield exhibit by the bewildering sense of chaos experienced by soldiers. The Homefront exhibit calls on visitors to place themselves in the shoes of wartime civilians and make the choices that faced Virginians of those times. The Slavery exhibit looks through the eyes of those who escaped to freedom and those who waited for freedom to come to them. The enduring legacy of the war is presented as a loss/gain scenario that challenges visitors to examine their own perspectives.

More information on the HistoryMobile and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the Civil War Commission can be found at http://www.virginiacivil For information on visiting Civil War sites throughout Virginia go to

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