Sunday, March 30, 2008

Heads Up!

On Friday, I received word from the senior manuscript editor at The Johns Hopkins University Press that my Confederate Faces manuscript will likely be delivered next week. After it is received, I will have about a month to review all of the edits, to answer all the related questions, and to resolve any conflicts and factual issues.

This will be perhaps the most intense period of the entire publishing journey, and I am anxious to begin. To prepare, I am in process of clearing off my desk of as many outstanding projects, small and large, as possible.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Eyewitness to Lincoln's Assassination

Last week I received an email from Bill Toffey. His great-grandfather, John James Toffey, is one of the officers profiled in Union Faces. Bill surprised me with the information that fifty-five wartime letters written by his great-grandfather, including one in which he recounts his attendance at Ford's Theater on the night of the assassination of President Lincoln, and how he came across John Wilkes Booth's horse afterwards. The letter is referenced in American Brutus by Michael W. Kauffman. Here is a transcription:

Lincoln U.S. General Hospital
Washington, D.C. April 17th 1865
Dear Parents
I would have written home before but the excitement has been so great that I could think of writing. On Friday evening I understand that President Lincoln & Genl. Grant was going to attend Fords Theatre and I concluded that I would go, not to see the play particular, but to see those two great men. While sitting looking at the performance about ½ 10 of c a shot was fired, I took no notice of it neither did any of the audience, as it was thought to be part of the performance, till we saw a man leap from the Presidents Box and light on the stage, he lingered a second then shot off like an arrow every one was struck with astonishment until he had disappeared behind the scenes, when it was announced that the President was shot then the greatest excitement prevailed. I had a revolver with me and would to God I had presence of mind enough at the time the man jumped down to have shot him, several other officers had revolvers but the thing was done so quick that there was hardly time to draw them and shoot. The President was taken to a house opposite After waiting about the house for an hour or so I went up to the Hospital, and was telling the news to the Officer of the day when a horse galloped up saddled and bridled but no rider, a Guard and myself succeeded in stopping it: The sweat was pouring off of it I thought immediately that it had something to do with the Murder, about that time a squad of Cavalry came up to scout the country about there. I reported having taken the horse to the Officer in charge, he wanted to take it but I refused letting him have it, But went myself with it (it being then about ½ 1 o/c) to Maj. Gen. Augur Office and delivered it up. This horse was afterwards identified as the one Booth rode. The Genl o Adj. Genl thanked me and desired a Captain and myself and a guard should search the houses about the Hospital thinking he might have been thrown from his horse and be secreted in some place. We searched until morning without success. The next day I attended to my regular duties and that evening the Doctor called me to his room and said that he was afraid the soldiers would mob the rebel prisoners at our Hospital, as they (the soldiers) were very much aroused at the death of our President and desired me to take a guard and be around that night I put a guard over every ward and would not let a man out. So you see I was on duty for Forty (48) hours with out sleep Danl Worden is with me now. The report this morning is that we have caught the men who attempted the life of Sec. Seward The city here is all draped in morning. The night the President was murdered I done something that I have not done in a good while and that was to cry the tears showed themself before I knew it. We officers are to wear the badge of mourning for 6 months Last night I had a good rest and am feeling well. Write to me soon. I am going down tomorrow to see the Presidents remains as I understand it is to lay in state
Love to all
From your aff. Son
John James
David sends his love

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Transformation of Maj. Huse

I’ve just finished transcribing about thirty wartime letters written by Henry H. Huse of the Eighth New Hampshire Infantry between January 1862 and November 1863. Part of a larger collection of family documents owned by Notre Dame, they reveal the transformation of a boyish captain on a great adventure to an embittered major caught up in army politics. The turning point came during the Bayou Teche Campaign in Southern Louisiana in April 1863, after he was knocked over by the concussion of an artillery shell that flew by his head and ripped into the body of his second lieutenant. It is rare in my experience to find a cache of personal letters so revealing.

Key quotes:

“My Dear Mother I am proud to say I am better circumstanced than ever before in my life. Healthy, happy and prosperous, enjoying the good will of superiors as well as inferiors engaged in a holy cause and doing all I can for it, which is enough to make any one happy isnt it.” Sept. 13 1862.

“Think I shld learn to love this fighting business hugely. The roar of hundreds of cannon is great music.” March 25, 1863.

“A solid shot from one Cannon just escaped my head, stunning me by the concussion of the air, and tore my Lieut. literally to pieces. Oh! It was awful heart-rending, yet such is war. He lived after being hit a short time. He spoke first to me and said, ‘Capt. I am killed.’ ‘Oh no, John,’ I answered ‘I hope not.’ He threw his arms around my neck, ‘It is hard to think of Capt, to leave my wife and children he said, but it is for the best and I can bear it bravely.’ I ordered men to carry him back to the rear, and he said, ‘Let me die by your side and with the Comp.’ but I sent him back and never saw him again.” May 3, 1863.

“There is an organized clique here which is determined to rule or ruin everything which they can have any power over.” Oct. 31, 1863.

“So much jealousy and dishonesty, wrangling and fighting for everything, without cause, exists among officers in the army that one never knows who are his friends or whether he has any or not.” Nov. 16, 1863.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Marketing Questionnaire Completed

This morning I emailed the completed marketing questionnaire to my contact at The Johns Hopkins University Press. This bulk of the document is a list of addresses and other contact information for potential review and sales opportunities. I concentrated my effort on researching companies and individuals likely to be interested in the book. Altogether, I identified fifty potential venues. I must admit that locating various websites, and searching through them to find contact information, is not a task that I looked forward to. However, this information is key to the success of the book, so I made every effort to identify the best possible places to get the word out.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Respectfully Returned

I received a follow up letter from the New York Attorney General's office this week, formally requesting the return of the three cartes de visite stolen by Daniel Lorello and sold on eBay (scroll down to see my original post on this subject). The photographs are their way home, securely packed in an envelope protected by cardboard. On one side of the cardboard I wrote, "Respectfully returned to the people of New York," and added my name and the date.

I am relieved that these images are returned to their rightful owners. Moreover, that every one of the hundreds of items taken by Lorello are returned safely and quickly.