Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Radio Interview About "Notre Dame and the Civil War"

I had the great privilege and pleasure of speaking with Mrs. Madeline Johnson about Notre Dame and the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory (The History Press, 2010) and other interesting topics on her radio program, "Life to the Full," sponsored by the Radio Ministry of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (TX).

The program aired on Sunday, 19 June 2011, and Mrs. Johmson kindly extended permission for me to share the audio (15 minutes), embedded in the YouTube video below (note that this is an audio clip only, with an image of the book's cover as a video "placeholder.")

Enjoy and Thank You for listening! (and special thanks to the incomparable Madeline Johnson!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Swaddled in History! (The Multi-Generation Story of My Baptismal Clothes)

I've had the great privilege of being interviewed by bloggers Donald Thompson (here and here) and Robert Redd (here) in which I was able to explain from whence my interest in history, generally, and Civil War history, especially, come.

I was pondering lately, though, why I would have more than an interest it, and rather a passion.

Perhaps it's because I was literally "swaddled in history" almost from birth as witnessed in the clipping below from the June 16, 1964 edition of the Hays (KS) Daily News:

Off and On Main Street
By L. M.

It is too bad this baby was unaware of the distinction which surrounded his baptism but he will doubtless be reminded of it many times when he reaches the age of understanding for it is a set of most unusual circumstances which will be of interest to readers in this area.

James Michael Schmidt, son of Mr. and Mrs. Terrance C. Schmidt was baptized at Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Topeka on May 31. Grandparents of the baby are Mr. and Mrs. Alvin M.Weigel of Pratt and Mr. and Mrs. Elmer C. Schmidt of Hays.

For his baptism James wore a hand crocheted cap which had been worn by four generations and a hand sewn dress which had been worn by three generations of his family. The cap was first worn by James F. Giebler of Severin, 72 years ago at his baptism on July 10. The dress was made by Mrs. James F. Giebler and will be 49 years old in August. It was first worn by their eldest daughter. The cap and dress have been worn a tbaptisms by twelve children, 39 grandchildren and one great-grandchild of Mr. and Mrs. Giebler and it has been worn in Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Florida and many parts of Kansas.

The four generations wearing the cap are: James F. Giebler, maternal great grandfather, Mrs. Alvin Weigel of Pratt, maternal grandmother ,Mrs. Terrance C. Schmidt of Topeka, mother, and James Michael, son of Mrs. Schmidt.

So, there you go! Maybe that's where I get my passion for history!
Do some quick math and you'll see that the cap is now 119 years old and the gown is now 96 years old!

The cap and gown are still in our family...my daughter was the fifth generation to wear it, in 1986!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Notre Dame's Civil War "Roll of Honor" - James E. Taylor - With Sword *and* Brush

As I have mentioned in previous posts and in the Preface of my book, Notre Dame in the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory (The History Press, 2010), I have a long-term goal of cataloging and researching Notre Dame's Civil War student-soldiers.

You can find an initial list here.

My previous student-soldier profiles are listed below:

Cassius M. Brelsford - 113th Illinois Infantry (here)
John C. Lonergan - 58th Illinois Infantry (here)
Timothy E. Howard - 12th Michigan Infantry (here)
Frank Baldwin - 44th Indiana Infantry (here and here)
Felix Zeringue - 30th Louisiana Infantry (CSA) (here)
Michael Quinlan - 27th Virginia Infantry (CSA) (here and here)
Thomas E. Lonergan - 90th Illinois Infantry (here)
Orville T. Chamberlain - 74th Indiana Infantry (here and here)

There are many more profiles to come!

Today's post introduces readers to another Notre Dame Civil War student-soldier - James E. Taylor, 10th New York Infantry, although he is probably better known for his paint brush and charcoal pencil than his soldiering!

Taylor was born in 1839 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, a blacksmith, died when James was only seven, and his mother turned to sewing and boarding tenants to make ends meet. A few years later, she moved the family to northwestern Indiana, and James and his brother Richard both attended Notre Dame from 1850 to 1851. They returned to Cincinnati, and James—only twelve years old—helped the family by working various odd jobs. His passion, though, was in the arts, having shown a talent for drawing and painting at an early age. Indeed, he lost many a job because “his employers would catch him drawing when he should have been working,” one Taylor biographer declared.

At the age of fourteen, Taylor submitted some drawings to Nicholas Longworth, a vintner and real estate tycoon and patron of the arts in Cincinnati. Mr. Longworth, impressed with the boy’s work, sent him to an art academy in the city, where Taylor, according to his autobiography,“mastered the rudiments of drawing which have since stood [me] in such good stead.” Taylor became famous in the region for his panoramas of the American Revolution and the John Brown raid; noted orator Reverend Henry Bellows admired the paintings and brought Taylor to New York to study art. A year later, the Civil War began, and as Taylor wrote, he “laid down the brush…and shouldering his gun at his Country’s Call went to the Front” with the 10th New York Volunteer Infantry.

Taylor mustered out as a sergeant at the end of his two years’ service,“through which Ordeal he passed Unscathed owing to fortuitous Circumstances,” he wrote. In his spare time, he had created a portfolio of sketches of camp life, and rather than reenlist, he showed the sketches to Frank Leslie, publisher of the popular weekly Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Taylor spent the rest of the war as a “special artist” for Leslie,who counseled Taylor to pay attention to every detail, “even sticks, stones and stumps…regardless of flying bullet and shell.” Taylor soon became one of America’s best-known artists, and he worked for Leslie for another twenty years before retiring to his studio, where he did freelance work until he died in 1901.

Note: All quotes are from Oliver Jensen, “War Correspondent: 1864,” American Heritage 31, No. 5 (August–September 1980): 48–64. You can read the full text of the article here.

The premiere source on James E. Taylor - indeed perhaps the most detailed account of wartime life and work of any "special artist" - is Taylor's With Sheridan Up the Shenandoah Valley in 1864: Leaves from a Special Artist's Sketch Book and Diary, which remained unpublished and held by the Western Reserve Historical Society (Ohio), until being released by Morningside Press in 1989 (in a hard-to-find edition).

You can also learn more about Taylor at the Smithsonian's online "Drawing the Western Frontier: The James E. Taylor Album" exhibit (here).

See here for a WONDERFUL image of Taylor in a Zouave uniform as part of the 10th New York (Michael J. McAfee Collection)

Taylor Portrait (Smithsonian) (above)
Example of Taylor Art (below)
Obituary - New York Times - June 23, 1901 (below)


He Was a Famous Artist and War Correspondent of the Rebellion

James E. Taylor, a war correspondent and artist of the rebellion, whose pictures of the Indian, negro, and soldier became famous throughout the United States, died yesterday at his home, 1460 Lexington Avenue, after a brief illness. Death was due to a complication of diseases; Mr. Taylor was born In Cincinnati, Ohio, and early showed remarkable skill with his pencil and brush. He was educated at Notre Dame du Lac University, at South Bend, Ind., and upon graduating from there painted a panorama of the American Revolution.

At this time he was only eighteen years of age, and his work and perseverance attracted the attention of the late Rev. Henry W. Bellows, D. D., of All Souls Church, New York. Dr; Bellows advised the young man to go to New York and study art, and offered to assist him during his first year's course. The offer was accepted, and the young artist arrived at the great metropolis in 1860, determined to make a reputation for himself, but the war fever seized him, and he enlisted with the Tenth New York Volunteers of National Zouaves and went to the front with them. He made good useof his spare time, and prepared a number of sketches of camp life and the stirring incidents of the opening of the rebellion.

After serving two years and reaching the rank of Sergeant, Taylor decided to enlist again, but was advised to apply for a position, as war correspondent. The very first man he went to — Frank Leslie — engaged him, and published the sketches he had made and assigned him to follow Sheridan's army. He remained with Gen. Sheridan in the principal engagements and "Little Phil's" famous ride.

With the close of the campaign in the valley, in December, 1864, when the main body of Sheridan's army departed to reinforce Grant at Petersburg, Taylor was ordered to Gen. Butler's front on the James River, and remained there, to picture his dusky friends and bluecoats, until after the blowing out of the bulkhead of the Dutch Gap Canal, which incident he constructed from a. sketch he made of the canal under fire when it was being dug. After the explosion he went to Matanzas by steamer, and thence to Port Royal, to again join Sheridan's army, then about to leave Savannah on its march through the Carolinas to menace Richmond and aid Gen. Grant in its capture.

He made the journey of 1,000 miles on horseback with the Seventeenth Corps, and finally arrived at Richmond, after many exciting incidents. At the close of the rebellion he went South to portray the negro and the Indianfor Leslie's and continued with that magazine till 18S3. He was the detailed artist to the Peace Commission with the Indians that held council at Medicine Lodge Creek in 1867, and was sent to Santo Domingo with the Annexation Commission in 1870, during Gen. Grant's Administration, onboard the frigate Tennessee, which vessel was reported lost, as it was missing for a week.

Among his most famous paintings was "The Last Grand Review," painted for Gen. Sherman, depicting- the victorious Union troops wheeling into Fifteenth Street from Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington,D. C., on May 21, 1865. The plates of this picture were stolen, and it was widely sold throughout the United States and Europe. Four of his pictures are now in the publi clibrary at Washington. About five years ago he retired, and spent much of his time in travel. He was sixty-one years old and a bachelor. Funeral services will be held at his late residence on Monday at 10 o'clock.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The University of Notre Dame Archives Comes Through Again!

I have posted before (here, here, here, and many more) on how critical the kind, expert, and enthusiastic assistance of the Archives of the University of Notre Dame (AUND) was to my successfully researching and writing Notre Dame and the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory (The History Press, 2010).

Likewise, I've mentioned before (here) interesting connections between the Notre Dame/Civil War project and my current Galveston (TX)/Civil War writing and research project, especially the involvement of Catholic sister-nurses in both cases.

As it turns out, the University of Notre Dame Archives also has some great material to support my Galveston/Civil War project, and - perhaps to many readers of this blog - unexpectedly!

It's no surprise that a primary mission of the AUND is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the permanent historical records of the University of Notre Dame...however, from the late 1800s, the University has also committed itself to documenting the history of the Catholic Church in the United States; to that end, the University Archives has acquired historical material and papers from the bishops of Baltimore, Bardstown-Louisville, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Vincennes-Indianapolis and many other Sees.

Among the diocesan papers they maintain are those of the Archdiocese of New Orleans (La.), including more than 34 linear feet (!) of records from 1786-1897.

So...what does this have to do with my Galveston/Civil War research project?

The connection lies in Bishop Jean Marie Odin (1800-1870). Odin was the first bishop of Galveston (1847) but just as the Civil War was starting, he was named as the Archbishop of New Orleans. You can read more about Bishop Odin at the "Handbook of Texas Online", specifically his entry here.

Odin was beloved by the people of Texas (especially Galveston) and many persons from Galveston maintained a steady correspondence with Bishop Odin over the course of the war.

Fortunately, to help researchers, the AUND has made available online its "Calendar" of correspondence, which serves an excellent finding aid, with summaries of the correspondence.

I've been able to secure copies of more than a dozen letters written from Galvestonians to Bishop Odin in New Orleans during the war, although there are many more. From what I can tell, these have not been used in the Galveston/Civil War literature-to-date, and I am confident that the information I'll glean from them will 1) make the book all the more interesting and 2) add to the scholarship of Galveston and the Civil War.