Received for Review – “Men of Fire”

Earlier this week I was very pleased to receive Jack Hurst’s “Men of Fire: Grant, Forrest, and the Campaign That Decided the Civil War” from the Perseus Books Group for review.  I know of Hurst’s writing, and as I flipped through the book I could tell that this one was going to be very engaging indeed.

Hurst previously wrote a well-received biography of Forrest.  I have long wanted to read a good book on Grant’s earlier career and the fighting at Ft. Donelson, and I anticipate that Hurst has written just that – although I truly doubt that I’ll be convinced this 1862 campaign “decided” the outcome of the Civil War three years later.  I will ignore the subtitle of the book for now, and chalk it up to what lately appears to be a trend to tout each subject event as the one the “decided” the Civil War.

I also look forward to expanding my reading into the Western Theater with this work.  As I work to wrap up our Retreat from Gettysburg manuscript over the next couple of weeks, this book will give me a welcome diversion from time to time.  By early next month I should be able to post a review here.

Published in: on August 16, 2007 at 9:40 am  Comments (2)  

O-o-o-o-kay….

That’s about all I can say about this story, which appeared in the Gettysburg Times a couple days ago.  I guess if I believe this one, I should put a down payment on the Brooklyn Bridge. 

An important memento of one of Gettysburg’s greatest icons of the Battle fought here nearly 145 years ago has returned – the bullet that killed Jennie Wade.

The bullet, kept by a Union soldier who fought at Gettysburg and passed down through his family, could challenge the most popular versions of the legend. The fatal bullet, along with documentation, was recently obtained by Gettysburg resident Kenneth J. Rohrbaugh. Rohrbaugh wears a number of managerial and executive hats in conjunction with Heritage Inns Inc., the Gettysburg Tour Center, and a multi-business holding company.

The bullet that created a heroine was quietly brought home about three weeks ago, Rohrbaugh said. It was delivered in person by a descendent of the soldier, William J. Fleming, who had kept it. Fleming was a member of Company E, 6th Regiment, Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery by war’s end. Efforts are being made to determine what unit he may have been with during the Gettysburg Campaign.

For decades, the bullet laid among the belongings and photographs of Fleming, kept in a drawer in the home of descendent Ted Simon and his wife, Mary Lou, in West Newton, Pa. “My great-grandfather brought it home in 1865,” Simon said. “It was told to me 55 years ago that he had either dug it out of the wall, or that it had been found lodged between her body and her clothing.”

The soldier could only tell his family that this was the bullet who killed a lady in Gettysburg baking bread in the kitchen. “That’s all we ever knew,” Simon stated, adding that no one (in the family, including the soldier) had a clue as to who the lady was that had been the victim of the shooting.

“Back in the 60s, when visiting Gettysburg, I went to the Jennie Wade museum and realized this must be the lady (his great-grandfather had mentioned),” Simon said. He then contacted Gettysburg historian and actor Cliff Arquette (aka Charlie Weaver), who owned the Soldiers Museum (now called the Soldiers National Museum), 777 Baltimore St., who “was really enthused” about seeing the bullet.

Simon then “took the bullet home and put it in the drawer and forgot about it.” “This summer we were going to go out in that (Gettysburg) area for a vacation, and a few months ago, talked to Ken (Rohrbaugh) who said he would like to have it.”

The bullet’s owner decided to donate it to the museum operation Rohrbaugh is involved with. “Who knows what it is worth. It is better there (in Rohrbaugh’s care) than in my hands sitting in the drawer,” he said. Additionally, Simon gave Rohrbaugh Fleming’s discharge papers, a York (Pa.) reunion medal, and photographs. “I thought it was great to bring it back,” Simon said.

Rohrbaugh plans on displaying the bullet (or a replica of it) along with Fleming’s papers and photographs in the Jennie Wade Museum and House when appropriate security measures can be implemented.

Published in: on August 16, 2007 at 12:07 am  Comments (4)  
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