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I have the good fortune of not having to be a professional historian, meaning, having to publish traditionally in order to put food on the table. I’ve been studying and researching on the American Civil War for over 25 years. My personal Civil War library is over 10,000 volumes. I also collect letters, documents, newspapers, some images, etc. I also have a Civil War image library (contemporary photos) that recently passed over 30,000 separate images.
I wish I had the patience and focus to write traditional non-fiction books, but alas, my ADHD keeps me moving, often following fascinating rabbit trails. These ‘trails’ have resulted in thousands of blog posts, essays, soldier-research files, PowerPoints, lectures, talks.
Scores of these are accessible FREE on ScribD.com/KraigM for your downloading pleasure. As of April 2014 my Franklin/middle Tennessee ScribD collection has received over 40,000+ downloads/reads. http://bit.ly/1gREnXy
When one factors in my views to this blog (almost 450,000) and the number of reads/downloads on my ScribD site (91,000+), it becomes obvious why a non-traditional publishing model suits my style of research and publication best.
Here is a partial bibliography of my work: http://battleoffranklin.wordpress.com/welcome/publisher/resources/
I do accept about a dozen or so speaking engagements each year. I try to keep them to one per month. I enjoy doing Civil War round tables, conferences, lectures, etc. If interested in booking me for a talk/presentation please email me at telling history[at]yahoo.com
Here are some of the Civil War subjects I enjoy speaking on:
- Units, actions or engagements involving middle Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan
- People like: Irish songster Barney Williams, escaped slave Robert Smalls, Union POW Morris Cooper Foote, Medal of Honor Winners from Tennessee and Michigan, the Civil War service of Lee Ewing (63rd Indiana), random soldier-profiles I have unearthed.
- Other subjects including: military hospitals in Nashville, poetry and entertainment, Beaufort (SC), and others.
Who is Sam Hood?
Sam Hood is a graduate of Kentucky Military Institute, Marshall University (bachelor of arts, 1976), and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. A collateral descendent of General John Bell Hood, Sam is a retired industrial construction company owner, past member of the Board of Directors of the Blue Gray Education Society of Chatham, Virginia, and is a past president of the Board of Directors of Confederate Memorial Hall Museum in New Orleans. Sam resides in his hometown of Huntington, West Virginia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with his wife of thirty-five years, Martha, and is the proud father of two sons: Derek Hood of Lexington, Kentucky, and Taylor Hood of Barboursville, West Virginia.
Sam Hood made an exciting announcement on October 19th, 2012. Using the Historic Carnton Plantation as his backdrop for a media announcement, Sam revealed that he had “discovered” an extremely important collection of papers, documents and personal items related to Confederate General John Bell Hood. The documents are presently in private hands of a Hood descendant in Pennsylvania. Sam himself is a second cousin to John Bell Hood.
Who are the historians and authors I interviewed for this series of blogposts?
Sam Hood, William T. Davis, Steven E. Woodworth, Wiley Sword, Chris Losson and Thomas Flagel.
Why are the newly discovered Hood papers important?
The news of the documents is exciting, not only for the amount of primary resources it now provides scholars and historians, but for the potentially new interpretations that could come from examining the material. Sam Hood says that he is absolutely sure the primary resources that have been revealed were personally used by John Bell Hood to construct his memoirs, Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies, “which served to justify his actions, particularly in response to what he considered misleading or false accusations made by Joseph E. Johnston, and to unfavorable portrayals in Sherman’s memoirs. (Wikipedia)”
If there are newly warranted interpretations that come from the papers, long-noted critic of John Bell Hood, author and historian Wiley Sword says that the new papers must not stand isolated, on their own:
“Since the new material must be put in context with the existing Hood materials, it should be evident from the beginning that the new documents will NOT STAND ALONE in an interpretation of Hood’s career. Hopefully, they will be a significant adjunct enabling further interpretation and insight, but care must be taken in discounting or ignoring existing original material. Once full access to the new materials (not merely their interpretation and partial reporting) is generated, we will have a better means to review what aspects of Hood’s career might be revised or reinterpreted.”
For those who would quickly conclude that the new Hood papers will significantly re-shape our understanding of John Bell Hood, esteemed T.C.U. Professor and historian Steven E. Woodworth advises:
“It’s way too early to know much about this. It might be big, might not. We just don’t know yet. I think the papers will need to be carefully studied by several well trained and/or experienced historians before we can begin to say how significant this find is.”
In the end, the Hood papers will be deemed valuable by historians from a variety of perspectives. It will largely depend on what one is (or is not) looking for. Historian and author Chris Losson (author of a book on Confederate General Frank Cheatham) states:
“I would hope that the papers contain information which will more fully explain Hood as a corps commander but particularly as commander of the Army of Tennessee.”
What does the newly revealed collection contain regarding John Bell Hood?
According to Wittenberg’s interview with Sam Hood:
Approximately 80 letters to Hood by high and lower ranked Civil War characters, Union and Confederate, wartime and postwar. Correspondents include Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee, SD Lee, Braxton Bragg, James Seddon, AP Stewart, WH Jackson, SG French, William Bate, Henry Clayton, FA Shoup, Mrs Leonidas Polk, William M Polk, WS Featherston, Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, David S Terry, Matthew C Butler, GW Smith, PGT Beauregard, Louis T Wigfall, George Thomas, WT Sherman, and numerous lower ranked officers, mostly members of commanders’ staffs.
There are 61 postwar letters from Hood to his wife Anna, and 35 from Anna to him as he traveled in his insurance business. Also included are Dr John T Darby’s two highly detailed medical reports of Hood’s Gettysburg and Chickamauga wounds, and the daily log of Hood’s treatment and recovery from the day of his leg amputation until November 24 in Richmond.
The collection also includes Hood’s Orders and Dispatches log and 4 volumes of Telegram logs for his entire tenure as commander of the Army of Tennessee. Additionally, Hood’s first and second lieutenant’s commission certificates from the US Army are in the collection, along with 4 remarkable documents: his original commission certificates for his ranks of brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general, and full general in the Confederate Army. There are also numerous photographs and other ephemera of Hood, his children, and his grandchildren.( Read Eric’s interview. )
What has been the response among historians in the field since the announcement of the collection?
Veteran and trusted author-historian William C. Davis (professor of history at Virginia Tech University and Director of Programs at Virginia Tech’s Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. ) takes a more cautionary approach:
“My immediate response is not to place too much hope for revelations in the papers, but that is based solely on the slim descriptions provided in the Tennesseean article. I would hope for some personal insights into Hood, but that would require personal letters by him, or from those who knew him very well. It sounds like this cache is mostly letters to Hood rather than from him. If I had to guess, I would suspect that the bulk of these are items he gathered while writing his memoir. As such they will be from people whow ere friends and associates most likely to support his version of events. That is the way with all memoirs, alas.”
Historian and critic of Hood, Wiley Sword hopes the collection will shed light on some of the more controversial aspects of Hood’s career:
“Since there are many controversial aspects to Hood’s career, hopefully there will be further clarification of some of the more crucial aspects of events and his intentions. For example, Tom Connelly in his Autumn of Glory cites the clandestine Hood correspondence with the Davis administration while serving under Joe Johnston in the Army of Tennessee (pp. 322-323). Much as the president’s watch dog, Hood was informing on Johnston without the later’s knowledge, in a highly prejudiced manner. This original correspondence is in the Western Reserve Historical Collection, Cleveland, Ohio (William P. Palmer Collection of Braxton Bragg papers), and perhaps in the new materials there may be an indication or further evidence of Hood’s instructions to keep Davis and Bragg informed on Johnston, whom neither trusted well. Of course, there are many other aspects of Hood’s career that need further explaining, including his thinking during the 1864 Tennessee Campaign. This would be a much desired clarification of the many disastrous decisions Hood made.”
Historian and author Thomas Flagel perhaps says it best in terms of how the recent discovery of Hood papers’ reminds us that history is still alive:
“On the recent Hood sources, I can be certain of this: it is a magnificent find because it proves once again that History is alive, and it is quite skilled in the element of surprise. Until I get into the documents, and well after, it will be difficult to gauge their magnitude. But their discovery is yet another reason why I love this profession. These are memories lost, and now they have found their way back into the collective consciousness. A few weeks ago, most of us did not know these letters existed. Now, our past, present, and future will not look quite like it did before.”
I recently blogged about a true Franklin story regarding how a Union Mason saved the life of a Confederate wounded Mason. As the story goes, a Union Mason soldier noticed the Confederate was wearing a Masonic pin and thus saved his life. At first I could not imagine how a Union soldier could even recognize a small pin that the Confederate would have been wearing. Then I checked on eBay and found this. If William F. Gibson was wearing anything like this one I can understand how the Union soldier would’ve seen it.
The newly released “The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War” by Little-Brown is instantly the best resource of its kind on the market, and well it should be. The senior writer and editor in the Publishing Office has led an effort to produce a first-rate reference book. Every public library should have this book and even the casual Civil War enthusiast will thoroughly enjoy perusing its pages.
It’s a typical over-sized reference book ( 13 x 9 3.4), but thin enough – with just 240 pages – to stand alongside one’s existing Civil War atlases. The layout is consistent, pleasing, and chalked full of interesting quotes and with more than 350 color illustrations.
The illustrations are not just eye-candy for the reader either, although many of the images used in the book are very rare. A few I have to admit I’ve never seen before. One will find
manuscripts in Lincoln’s own hand, onsite drawings made by a Civil War combat artist, maps, color lithographs, political cartoons, posters, [and] period photographs.
Margaret E. Wagner is no stranger to Civil War reference books either. She is the co-author and co-editor of “The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference” and “The Library of Congress World War II Companion.” She is also the author of “The American Civil War: 365 Days,” “World War II: 365 Days,” and “Maxfield Parrish and the Illustrators of the Golden Age.”
Most pages are divided into two parts. The top half (about 40% of the page layout) contains the artfully chosen illustrations to supplement the text. My favorites are images of actual hand-drawn pictures from the period. The bottom 60% of the page contains the text based on a pertinent event for a given day of the month/year.
I was delighted to even find an entry for May 12-13th, 1862, for the escape of The Planterby Robert Smalls and his clandestine crew. The inclusion of this event shows the editor and her staff are well-informed as to an event that is normally overlooked by most resources of its kind.
The fine book retails for just $35.00 but can be purchased from Amazon for a mere $22.00 or so.
Professor/author/historian/preservationist and friend, Thomas Flagel has recently published a new edition of his book entitled “The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War”.
Here are my top ten reasons to read/buy this book, although my order is not relevant?
- It’s the best “list-kinda” book available. Many of these kind of books have been published over the years but Flagel’s has depth, reasonableness, and uniqueness compared to similar volumes in this genre.
- He’s starting his Ph.D., in the fall and he needs to pay for it. Buy the book. Buy two and give one away even.
- His organization and taxonomy is smart, useful and broad.
- For just under the price of a large Tuscan Six-cheese pizza from Papa Johns you will have the single resource in your hands to amaze all your friends during Trivial Pursuit night.
- The book averages over 4-stars on Amazon reviews.
- It just might impress the administration at Columbia State Community College, where he teaches, resulting in a significant raise, or at least a bigger classroom.
- Because everyone should read at least one Civil War book during the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War this year, and it might as well be this book.
- He asked me to review the book for him.
- It’s big and fat, affordable, and will look impressive next to the worthless fiction books on your nightstand.
- After reading it, you will be sufficiently literate to enjoy the very first Civil War Roundtable meeting you attend in your area.
From the publisher:
The publisher, Cumberland House, provided this commentary:
The 150th anniversary of the American Civil War is just months away, and the conflict’s very language still resonates within our national narrative. Texas rumbles with the sounds of secession. “States’ rights” remains a battle cry over boarder security, civil unions, and taxation. Groundswells against federalism have given birth to a political faction. The country still struggles with issues concerning race.
Author and historian Thomas R. Flagel offers a new and provocative perspective on the very source of these crises, through his newest edition of The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War.
An era often referenced but rarely comprehended, the four-year maelstrom induced a trauma unprecedented and unsurpassed in the American experience. The modern nation North and South may still be contending with anger and denial, unable to graduate towards acceptance. Considering the evidence, often overlooked by other histories, our lingering divisions are understandable.
Flagel provides a deeper clarity and perspective on tough issues of the Civil War that will have you debating new and intriguing questions in no time…
- While the U.S. has lost nearly 5,600 brave Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Civil War killed an average of 5,600 soldiers every twelve days.
- The “War Between the States” caused the national debt to swell 4,000%, by far the highest percentage increase in American history.
- In 1860, Mississippi was the 4th wealthiest state in the country. By 1865, it had become one of the poorest. It has remained near the bottom ever since.
- The average age of a Civil War veteran was 26, and many suffered from “Soldier’s Heart,” known today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- If the war were fought today, and consume the same proportion of the population, the death toll would be approximately 5.8 million.
The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War (Order from Amazon)
Thomas R. Flagel
Cumberland House, 2010
Paperback, 400 pages, illustrated, annotated, indexed