Good Book: Civil War Experiences by Henry C. Meyer

There are so many Civil War diaries out there, all different.  I've read a few, and have tried especially to read Mary Boykin Chesnut's Diary from Dixie THREE TIMES now, and never getting very far and having to return it to the library.  I know it's online, but I like the tactile experience of turning pages.  I like the book just fine, but the copy at my library has such small font, and Mary was quite verbose and no matter what volume you read they're all tomes.

Anyway, I check Gutenberg every morning to see what new books have been posted, and this morning I saw another Civil War diary – Civil War Experiences under Bayard, Gregg, Kilpatrick, Custer, Raulston, and Newberry, 1862, 1863, 1864 – and took a look as I always do.  They're usually dull and boring, but not this one.  The content is as full and rich as the title is bone dry.

I was captivated before the end of the first sentence.  I'm not yet on page 5 and I had to start this post as the book is so engaging I just knew I was going to post about it.

It is written in such a delightfully easy conversational tone, I can almost imaging him saying it out-loud – here are some samples:

*"That night I went to my home, at Dobb's Ferry, on the Hudson River, and reported what I had done, intending to leave for Washington the next morning, when I was promised transportation. This interview with my parents was quite unpleasant, as my father was very angry and my mother in great distress. At that time both my father and his friends regarded my action as worse than foolish and almost as bad as though I had done something disreputable. Indeed, as I was afterwards informed, one gentleman remarked, "Well, that is too bad; that boy has gone to the devil, too. 

*"The following morning I bade my parents good-bye, feeling that if I were wounded or crippled I should not care to return home for them to take care of me. Subsequent letters from home, however, removed that feeling."

WOW.  That's some deep sentiment.  And then he speaks of the beginnings of his trip to meet his regiment, and the part inbetween about his filling out his own enlistment papers and the armless man entering the recruiting station were amusing too, and then there was this part about him selling his civilian clothes and the buyer deserting… and we aren't even on page 7 yet and I can't post everything he wrote, but this part about the pickles and ice cream made me chuckle.

*"On landing at Walnut Street wharf I went into the soldiers' refreshment room, maintained by the citizens of Philadelphia, which was open night and day, and at which all soldiers passing through the city were fed free of charge. It was about two o'clock in the morning, very hot, and I was tired and depressed. Hence, when invited to partake of some refreshments, I was unable to do so but contented myself with eating a few pickles."

*"On arriving in Baltimore I walked to another part of the city to take the train for Washington. Meanwhile I wanted some breakfast. Going into a place which I supposed was a restaurant, I found that the only thing they could offer me was ice-cream. I thereupon ate some, and soon after took the train for Washington. In a few moments the Philadelphia pickles, the hot night, and the Baltimore ice-cream produced most severe cramps, and I was in a very distressed state of mind, fearing that I would never be able to reach the front, but would have to submit to the mortification of being returned home."

And I just know there's a joke in there about keeping your nose to the grindstone somewhere….

*"On this raid the regiment destroyed considerable property, and many of the men carried away all sorts of things for which they had no use. Indeed, I heard Colonel Kilpatrick laughingly remark that one fellow, in his zeal to have something, actually had a grindstone on his saddle in front of him. After carrying it about a mile he concluded, however, that he had no further use for it, and dropped it in the road."

That's most of chapter one, and if I haven't sufficiently piqued your interest nothing in chapter two will.

*Book excerpts taken from Project Gutenberg's copy of Civil War Experiences under Bayard, Gregg, Kilpatrick, Custer, Raulston, and Newberry, 1862, 1863, 1864 by Henry C. Meyer.

If you enjoyed this book, or just like Civil War diaries I highly recommend Alf Burnett's Incidents of the War: Humorous, Pathetic, and Descriptive; and I do have a particular favorite, but I am saving that one for a post of its own, so I'll mention Sarah Dawson Morgan's A Confederate Girl's Diary instead.

And I am going back to reading chapter two now…

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Civil War Movies (at the Internet Archive)

I think I found them all now…

Short Films:

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp.  (Sing along w/no sound.)
Plantation System in Southern Life.
Life in Old Louisiana.
Nor Long Remember.
A House Divided.
The Civil War.
Blue and Gray at the 75th Anniversary of Great Battle.
One Step Beyond: The Executioner.

Silent Films:

The General.
Birth of a Nation.

Feature Films:

Hearts in Bondage.

Kansas Pacific.

Arizona Kid.

Southward, Ho!.

Drums in the Deep South.


Abraham Lincoln.

Santa Fe Trail.

Hoosier Schoolmaster.

It’s a Joke Son.

Judge Priest.

Curse of Demon Mountain.


Renegade Girl.

Colonel Effingham’s Raid.

The Bushwackers.

Young Bill Hickok.


American Empire.

Abilene Town.

Honorable mentions:

I’m from Arkansas.

The Klansman.

The Proud and the Damned.
The Southerner.
Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond (The Executioner)

Out of three seasons and ninety-eight episodes, only one episode of ONE STEP BEYOND was made about the Civil War.

"The Executioner", a Confederate soldier and his dog get captured by Union troops and tried for alleged war crimes by a despicable despot of a Union General.  It's One Step Beyond, so you know it has a twist

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Published in: on July 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Humor: The Picket Line and Camp Fire Stories

The picket line and camp fire stories: a collection of war anecdotes, both grave and gay, illustrative of the trials and triumphs of soldier life ; with a thousand-and-one humorous stories, told of and by Abraham Lincoln, together with a full collection of Northern and Southern war songs  (1864)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

The Outlaw Josey Wales

My Dad used to watch Clint Eastwood movies when I was a kid, and I had seen the Beguiled (a favorite!), but I had never seen The Outlaw Josey Wales before last weekend.

Actually, a few weeks ago I almost posted something about Stand Watie, and found a clip of the Outlaw Josey Wales with Lone Watie, but that's the first time I ever knew the movie was even about the Civil War.

Then last week, it was on tv… so I watched it.  And found that one of the Civil War tunes I'd recently found was featured throughout the whole movie. 

If you live in Marin – it's on again tonight at 830, on channel 16.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Civil War Artists

Everyone has heard of Civil War era artists such as Eastman Johnson, Thomas Nast and Winslow Homer….

But what of other talented people who sadly aren't so well known?  Let me introduce you to two fine artists you may not have heard of.

I came across a series of paintings of the Battle of Antietam by Union Captain James Hope over at the NPS and they are well worth a look.  Scroll to the bottom of the linked page and you can view the series in an album (w/commentary notes) or a slide show.

They are all fairly similar and simplistic and don't look like much at first glance, but when you study them deeply you see quite a lot.  What struck me was how my eye was drawn upwards to the sky when there is so much happening on the ground.  They really are very impressive in their simplicity.

And my personal favorite – Gilbert Gaul.  I love the realism of his work and it almost reminds me of Norman Rockwell – well, at least the Between The Lines one does – ALMOST!  You can read a brief synopsis of Gaul's life at tennesseeencyclopedia and/or wikipedia.  And enjoy these painting I "stole/borrowed" from google images…

Sources used without permission:; the National Park Service;;; wikipedia; google images.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

American Civil War Handicrafts

It’s Arts & Crafts time, kids.

For a long time now I have been wanting to make my own Secession Cockade (aka Rosette) to show my support for the history of the CSA, and I finally found the instructions I bookmarked, but then could not find, and then found again… and in searching, I found two other sites (*one & **two) with similar instructions.

*(OUTSTANDING and impressive!)
**(Kind of a mess, but still followable.)

I also found a site with an interesting and informative write-up on what these Rosettes were all about.  I encourage to take a quick visit to gazkhan’s site, it’ll take less than 2 minutes to read and you’ll learn a lot.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Published in: on June 9, 2010 at 7:03 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Happy Birthday Jeff

Happy 202nd Birthday Jefferson Finis Davis.

"I worked night and day for twelve years to prevent the war, but I could not.  The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves and so the war came." – Jefferson F. Davis

More words from Jefferson Davis

Sources: Wikipedia, America's Library, Southern Shelter, Gutenberg.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

The Dying Soldier (Aka: Brother Green) by Reverend L. J. Simpson, Union Army

I'm not all one-sided.  I know there were two players in that game….

The Simpson brothers hailed from Illinois and joined the Union Army during the Civil war.  L. J. was a Southern Baptist preacher and joined as a Chaplain and his brother was in the “regular” service.

As far as I was able to learn from the book Buying the Wind: Regional Folklore in the United States by R.M. Dorson – Simpson is the original author of the Civil War ballad, The Dying Soldier, which he wrote upon learning of his brother’s death at the Battle of Fort Donelson, TN (2/11-16/ 1862*).

*There is a typographical error in that book that claims the song is from 1962, but since I have a recording of it from 1928, I know that is in fact a huge error and it is without one tiniest bit of doubt a Civil War ballad from 1862.  Take that Farbists.

Dorson’s book also tells me that additional verses were added sometime after the turn of the century, possibly as late as the 30s (but I could very well be completely wrong about how I interpreted what I read) by Mrs. Wilmore of West Frankfort, Ill., and were recorded by Professor David S. McIntosh.  Not much more information is available about the song itself other than many versions of the lyrics, which I am to believe, are partially Mrs. Wilmore’s if I read correctly.

What I did find was an interesting site ( offering the archives of the Marion Monitor, a local newsletter for Marion, Ill. in the late 1800s, which makes mention of some of L. J. Simpson’s activities….


September 19, 1878: “Funeral on the 5th Sunday in Sept. Rev. L.J. Simpson will preach the funeral of Maggie F. and Dennis Peebles.”


October 17, 1878:  “The Reverend L. J. Simpson located in Marion, Illinois.”


November 21, 1878: “The Reverend L. J. Simpson is in poor health being confined to his bed for a few days past.”


September 4, 1879: “Rev. L.J. Simpson was quite sick the fore part of this week.”


September 11, 1879: “The Reverend will conduct religious services at the Southern Methodist church next Saturday evening and Sunday with the Rev. C.W. Hutchinson.”


September 18, 1879: The Reverend made a social call to the writer of the Marion Monitor.    The week prior, “At the Southern Methodist, Rev. Simpson preached from the text “By their fruits ye shall know them…””.

No further mentions are made in the Marion Monitor about the Good Reverend, not even an eventual obituary notice, nor was I able to find anything else about him online, so there’s nothing left to do but listen to Simpson's song as interpreted by banjo virtuoso, Buell Kazee.

The Dying Soldier
Buell Kazee


All information used without permission from the following sources: Wikipedia, Google books, Marion Monitor (via, Internet Archive.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Happy Birthday Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

I wish I had better recall.  I just read a book in which a female character kept going on about "Bory".  I've been racking my brain all morning to no avail.

If you're wondering who he was… It was Beauregard who gave the order to fire on Fort Sumter against his former pupil, now on the inside of the Fort, Major Robert Anderson.

He is a very interesting person, and I encourage you to seek out one of the many biographies on him, as I could never do his story justice.

Cigarette card found at the Internet Archive, uploaded by/property of Herbert Hillary Booker 2nd of Tujunga, California.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,