(Never did pass Latin back in parochial school...) The play on words in today's post title is to call attention to the resource now available online at Seeking Michigan containing: "The Civil War Manuscripts collection consists of letters and diaries from the Civil War period (1861-1865). The letters and diaries document Michigan soldiers' experiences while serving the Union in various units. Most of the collection consists of personal narratives with a few official records concerning the war and later pensions."
The "Seeking Michigan" name comes from the State motto "If you seek a pleasant peninsula..."
Of all the Bruce Catton Civil War books, this is the one that has escaped making it into the personal library. Somehow no one gave it as a gift all those years ago when the passion about this subject was forming. Now, so many years later, why is it that there's almost an obsession with finding a copy and making sure it sits on the shelf next to the other books this Michigander wrote......?
Ordered The Boy General: Story of the Life of Major-General George A. Custer by Libbie Bacon Custer and Mary Elizabeth Burt. Turned out to be a reprint of the 1901 book published by Scribner's. It was an abridgement and compilation of her books about Custer that focused almost totally on the so-called Indian Wars. Not sure why she didn't really concentrate on the Civil War, but at least some of the writing is about that.
At any rate, there is a definite poignancy in the writing. Her constant references to "my husband" serve to remind the reader that we aren't dealing with some icon or statue. Custer was a real person, who fell in love with a woman and brought her to the Army of the Potomac on honeymoon. They were separated a lot during that final year of the War, and Libbie made sacrifices like all spouses of soldiers. In a dozen years, they spent far less time together than the civilian marriage allowed before he met his end.
A little book, but with a powerful reminder about service to our country.
One of the main purposes of this blog is to try telling the full story of Michigan and the Civil War. Not just "Thank God for Michigan" and Custer and the 24th Michigan and the shot that took down Jeb Stuart. Even more that makes the era as alive as ours is.
So, recently, in trying to educate an educator, the use of numbers came in handy. Some 14,000 deaths among 90,000 soldiers. A rate as high or higher than any other Union State. The 90,000 coming out of a population of 750,000. A comparable rate today of over a million troops from Michigan in arms, with 150,000 deaths. Figures that produced a blank look of near incomprehension til it all sank in.
The Civil War Preservation Trust, a great organization if there ever was one, does many good things including put up web materials to educate folks about the era. It has a John Brown trail map, and til recently Michigan was omitted. Thanks to the efforts of Michigan Historical Commission member James McConnell, that is being rectified:
Website and IT Matters
Rob Shenk, Director of Internet Strategy and Development
I enjoyed your map of John Brown’s travles, but thought you might want to include the follwoing event, as described on a State of Michigan Historical Marker. The University of Michigan-Dearborn, the Michigan Historical Commission, the Michigan Freedom Trail commission, the Dr. Charles wright Museum of African American History, and others sponsored a quality scholarly seminar on March 12, 2009.
Information on your resources will be shared, as i have done previously, in the printed and electronic communications of the Michigan Council for History Education, which I edit.
Special Projects Coordinator
Frederick Douglas - John Brown Meeting
In the home of William Webb, 200 feet north of this spot, two famous American's met several Detroit Negro residents on March 12, 1859, to discuss methods of abolishing American Negro slavery. John Brown (1800-1859), fiery antislavery leader, ardently advocated insurrectionary procedures, and eight months later became a martyr to the cause. Frederick Douglas (c. 1817-1895), ex-slave and internationally-recognized antislavery orator and writer, sought a solution through political means and orderly democratic processes. Although they differed on tactics to be used, they were united in the immortal cause of American Negro freedom. Among the prominent members of Detroit's Negro community reported to have been present were: William Lambert,George DeBaptiste, Dr. Joseph Ferguson, Rev. C. Monroe, Willis Wilson, John Jackson, and William Webb.
Thank you for the note below. I will forward this onto Nicole Osier who heads up our Education group and is responsible for the John Brown map.
Civil War Preservation Trust
Thank you for your recent e-mail. The event is now on our John Brown map listed under: Detroit, MI: March 12, 1862. Thank you for your support; it is contributions like this that help us present the quality material we strive for.
[Of course, the quibbler would suggest the date should be 1859...]
Notice of this most interesting Michigan antebellum freedom-loving abolitionist newspaper came recently:
"I want to alert you to a link to a newly digitized resource - the Signal of Liberty. We worked with the U-M's Digital Library Production Services as well as with the Ann Arbor District Library as an outgrowth of our joint site re "The Making of Ann Arbor. Karen Jania of our staff was instrumental in getting this digitized.
After waking up to frost on the pumpkin, this Sunday turned out to be a spectacular, sunny, colorful, memorable day. It's one of those Michigan days that the Pure Michigan ads capture so well: Deep Breath. Bright azure sky, delicate scattered pillow-like clouds, profligate green interspersed with beginning yellows and oranges -- and those are just the first of the turning leaves. Despite continuing economic uncertainty, the almost 10 million of us left in the Great Lake State are very blessed.
Oh, related: on the 'bucket list' this year were: visit to nearby Maybury State Park, and a trip to Eastern Market. Both accomplished; both just great experiences; both pure Michigan....