Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rec: I Expose My Neck. UGH!

My favorite things I read this week

OLD SECESH. "While I cover my Neck, I expose my Feet, and if I cover my Feet, I expose my Neck. Ugh !"(Harper's Weekly)

Before proceeding to a heaping helping of recommendations, a report from a minor skirmish today in history:
Headquarters One hundred and fifth Pa. Vols.
Camp Jameson, Va
December 19, 1861

Sir: In obedience to your orders, I left this camp at 9 pm of the 18th instant with a force consisting of the regiment under my command, a squadron of the New Jersey Cavalry, under Captain Jones, and two sections of artillery, under Lieutenant Monroe, New Jersey Volunteers, and arrived at Potter's house within half a mile of the extreme outposts of our pickets on the right near 11:30 pm. I found that the pickets had been undisturbed, and immediately proceeded to distribute my force as would best support the pickets and preserve the force itself, should we be attacked. No demonstration was made by the enemy during the night. I left Potter's house for Pohick Church about three quarters of an hour after daybreak, having been detained that long in developing a movement to capture some of the enemy, but which proved abortive.

We arrived at Pohick about 9 am; was informed that the previous day the enemy had there a force of 200 cavalry and also a regiment of infantry concealed in the woods to the west of the village. Remained at Pohick about two hours; sent a party down the Telegraph road and discovered about a mile distant a rebel picket 6 or 8 strong; fired at them and they fled, but did not pursue as my instructions did not allow me to proceed beyond this point. Left Pohick Church between 11 and 12 am, and returned to camp at 3:30 pm. Came by the village of Accotink, and was there informed that no rebel forces had been in the village for over a month.

Respectfully submitted,
Colonel, One hundred and fifth Regiment Pa. Vols.

Colonel Amos A. McKnight had led his small detachment out on a heavy patrol, because his division commander, Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman, had suspected Confederate activity around the remains of Pohick Church (which his men had ransacked in November). McKnight had raised the men himself from around the Pittsburgh area in August, after completing his own service as Captain of Company I, 8th Pennsylvania, a 90-day unit that had not done much of anything under Robert Patterson while Joe Johnston sneaked off to help clobber McDowell at Bull Run.

McKnight would continue with the regiment into the spring, before being severely wounded and missing almost a year of fighting. He would return for two battles, before being killed at Chancellorsville.


Disunion managed two entire good articles this week. First, the most suspenseful read I've had in awhile, when an LSU professor recounts the story of two Tigers condemned to death. Then the story of "The Picket Guard", a forgotten poem whose popularity still influences us today, most famously through the English-language title of Erich Maria Remarque's famous war novel (oh, and also some blog out there).

Speaking of Ron, he covered one of those courts-martial that George Meade spent so much of November and December complaining about.

This week I featured some stories about the Confederate right, including the Aquia District, led by Theophilus Holmes. By coincidence, here's his resignation letter from the U.S. Army. People believe handwriting tells a lot about people. It's probably not true, but if it was, this would say all you need to know about ol' Theophilus.

The Atlantic had an interesting piece contrasting how the Civil War was remembered 50 years ago to today, called "Not Your Grandfather's Civil War Commemoration."

And introducing one of my new favorite blogs, which covered the Irish Brigade in Winter Quarters.

It was a good week for reading.

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