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  • Ray Ortensie
    ... From: CivilWar CivilWar To: CW-AT-SI@SI-LISTSERV.SI.EDU Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 10:46 AM Subject: SmithsonianCivil War Studies e-Mail Newsletter
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2003
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: CivilWar CivilWar
      To: CW-AT-SI@...
      Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 10:46 AM
      Subject: SmithsonianCivil War Studies e-Mail Newsletter

      Smithsonian Associates Civil War E-Mail Newsletter
      Washington, D. C. April, 2003 Vol. 5 No. 9

      Thank you for subscribing to our FREE e-mail newsletter! Please forward
      this newsletter to any students, friends, teachers, or others who are
      interested in the American Civil War. We send out this newsletter about
      once per month, and welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions. Feel
      free to contact us at: civilwar@....


      These unique Civil War tours and cruises take you to the fields of action.
      The country's most eminent historians and authors, including Edwin C. Bearss
      and A. Wilson Greene host each event. Follow the links and reserve today!

      April 23-27, 2003, five days

      Tour the Jackson area and then head out to Vicksburg for three days of Civil
      War history. Examine the military maneuvers that led to the final success of
      the Union Army.

      May 8-11, 2003, 4 days

      Retrace the battles that marked the beginning of the end for the Army of
      Northern Virginia. Explore Germanna Ford, the Lacy House, the North Anna
      River, Cold Harbor Crossroads, and more

      June 4-9, 2003, 6 days

      Visit Westport and Minefield Battlefields and Ft. Scott in Missouri. See
      Carthage, General Sweeney's and Wilson Creek Battlefields and more!

      July 19-25, 2003, 7 days

      Follow the Union's advance, beginning with the Battle of Ringgold Gap,
      Battle of Resaca, the savage Battle of Allatoona Park, and along the New
      Hope-Dallas line. Visit the Kennesaw Civil War Museum.

      September 24-28, 2003

      Visit Fort Monroe, the largest most-encircled masonry fortification in
      America. Retrace the battles at Lee's Mill and Dam No. 1, and visit the
      Confederate headquarters at Endview Plantation.

      September 26-October 4, 2003, 9 days

      Board the steamboat Delta Queen for a journey along the Tennessee and
      Cumberland Rivers that witnessed some of the Civil War's most crucial
      battles including Shiloh and Chattanooga. Also learn about the region's rich
      musical traditions.

      November 12-16, 2003, 5 days

      Join renowned historian Edwin Bearss as he retraces the drama and spectacle
      of one of the most important battles in American history!

      Tuesday, April 15

      Join the oldest operating Lincoln Group at their next dinner meeting at Ft.
      McNair Officers' Club. Featured speaker, Illinois State Historian Thomas
      Schwartz, will talk about Abraham Lincoln and Death Threats. To attend,
      e-mail dennisu@... or go to http://www.lincolngroup.org


      April 4, 1865
      President Lincoln meets with Union and Confederate figures in Richmond,

      April 5, 1839
      Robert Smalls, the only black naval captain during the Civil War, is born in
      Beaufort, South Carolina.

      April 7, 1865
      Lincoln wires Grant: "General Sheridan says, 'If the thing is pressed I
      think that Lee will surrender.' Let the thing be pressed."

      April 9, 1865
      Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union General Ulysses S.
      Grant at Appomattox Court House, ending the Civil War.

      April 13, 1861
      After 34 hours of bombardment, Fort Sumter is forced to surrender to the
      Confederates, opening the Civil War.

      April 14, 1865
      President Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre, Washington

      April 17, 1861 and 1865
      1861: Virginia adopts ordinance of secession.
      1865: Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrenders to General William
      T. Sherman near Durham Station, North Carolina.

      April 21, 1865
      Train bearing President Lincoln's body leaves Washington en route to
      Springfield, Illinois.

      Ø Compiled from the Library of Congress Civil War Calendar, Pomegranate


      QUESTION LAST ISSUE: What is a "doggery"?

      CORRECT ANSWER: A "place of dissipation or idle resort, " a saloon.

      When running against Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln used the word in an
      1858 letter to a campaign associate. Lincoln learns that the opposition is
      sending outsiders into the district to pad the vote for Douglas. Lincoln
      became suspicious when he observed a group as they "dropped in about the
      doggeries" of the town. In the letter, Lincoln presents a plan to counter
      with a tactic of his own. He wrote, "It would be a great thing, when this
      trick is attempted upon us, to have the saddle come up on the other horse...
      If we can head off the fraudulent votes we shall carry the day." They did
      not carry the day, but the campaign against Douglas brought Abraham Lincoln
      national prominence, setting the stage for his presidential victory in 1860.

      CONGRATULATIONS to Joe Woltz of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Joe came across the
      answer when reading to his young son from Huckleberry Finn, the chapter
      where they are searching for the king and find him in "little low doggery."

      For answering our trivia question, Joe wins the book, Jeb Stuart, The Last
      Cavalier, by Burke Davis.

      QUESTION THIS ISSUE: Who was the "Cleopatra of the Confederacy"?

      Be the first to submit the correct answer and amaze your friends, win fame,
      fortune and/or a Smithsonian gift item. E-mail your answer to us at:

      The Smithsonian Institution During the Civil War
      By Kathleen W. Dorman, Associate Editor, Joseph Henry Papers
      Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives

      When the Civil War erupted in April 1861, the Smithsonian Institution itself
      was vulnerable. Located between the Capitol Building and the White House,
      the institution was not immune from the forces threatening to turn the city
      of Washington into an armed camp. Both the Smithsonian and Joseph Henry,
      its first Secretary, somehow persevered. "The interruptions and
      embarrassments," he wrote, "although frequent, and in some cases perplexing,
      have not prevented the continuance of the general operations of the
      Institution." However, were it not for his steadfast leadership, the
      institution might have suffered permanent damage.

      The Smithsonian Building, physically cut off from the rest of the city by
      the Washington Canal, was close to the Potomac River, which divided the
      District of Columbia from Virginia and the rebel south. For its defense the
      secretary of war issued the following order: "The Colonel of Ordnance will
      cause to be issued to Professor J. Henry of the Smithsonian Institute twelve
      muskets and 240 rounds of ammunition, for the protection of the Institute
      against lawless attacks."

      Trying to accommodate the sudden influx of soldiers, the government used a
      variety of public buildings and proposed that the Smithsonian Building also
      be used. Henry suggested that if the Smithsonian had to be used by troops,
      it would be "more in accordance with the spirit of the Institution" to use
      it as an infirmary. Fortunately, the building was not used.

      Henry had always tried to keep the Smithsonian out of the controversies of
      the day and his political opinions private. It is clear, however, that he
      abhorred war and favored a peaceful separation over a bloodbath. His
      assistant, Spencer Baird, not only did not volunteer for the Union but also
      cautioned other young men not to volunteer. He also, like Henry, clearly
      saw the Smithsonian as an institution founded, in the words of James
      Smithson's will, "for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men,"
      meaning, throughout the world. He thus expressed a sentiment undoubtedly
      shared by Henry: "Whatever power may control Washington, it is our hope to
      be allowed to carry out our sublime mission in the most catholic manner."

      Living in the Smithsonian Building, Henry's family couldn't help but be
      affected by the many soldiers passing through Washington throughout the war.
      In her diary, his oldest daughter wrote of streets filled with soldiers and
      the sound of drums. Mary Henry found the flashy New York Zouaves "quite
      disorderly since their arrival." But, she found the nearby Union
      encampments "indescribably picturesque."

      The Smithsonian soon began to feel the impact of the war on its programs.
      One of the first affected was its national network of volunteer weather
      observers. As soon as the war started, observers in the South and West
      stopped sending monthly reports. After the war, one observer in Richmond
      sadly informed Henry that when Sheridan's troops occupied his house, his
      barometer had been broken and the mercury taken out. Even in the North
      reporting was disrupted as some observers left for military duty and were
      unable to find substitutes. The program was also hurt by government
      preemption of the telegraph lines, which telegraph operators used to report
      daily weather information for display on a map in the Smithsonian Building
      and for publication in the evening paper. Henry wrote in December of 1861,
      "Our system of meteorology has been sadly broken in upon by the war."

      The war affected the Smithsonian's pocketbook also. The institution had
      three main sources of income at this time. The first derived from the
      principal of Smithson's bequest and amounted to about $31,000 a year. The
      second was $141,000 remaining of the interest the bequest had earned prior
      to 1846. The third was an annual congressional appropriation of $4000.
      Throughout the war Henry worried whether the government funds would be late
      or not paid at all; the currency itself was devaluated; and the
      institution's investments in the state bonds of Virginia, Tennessee, and
      Georgia stopped yielding interest. Henry feared that if Congress failed to
      appropriate money for the museum, "we shall be obliged to close the doors or
      charge an admittance to visitors." (Fortunately for us all, that precedent
      was not set.)

      Although Henry lamented the human losses, he viewed the war as an
      opportunity for scientific research. He foresaw "investigations as to the
      strength of materials, the laws of projectiles, the resistance of fluids,
      the applications of electricity, light, heat, and chemical action, as well
      as of aerostation [ballooning]." Historian Robert V. Bruce has pointed out,
      however, that most of the technology used in the Civil War was invented
      before the war and that because the war was not expected to last long,
      little research was initiated. He also concluded that the war actually had
      a negative effect on science, by diverting personnel and resources, and on
      individual scientists, whose skills or even lives were given to the war
      effort. He mentions particularly the case of George Gordon Meade, best
      known as the Union commander at Gettysburg. Before the war, Meade had been
      a captain in the army's Corps of Topographical Engineers in charge of the
      Great Lakes Survey. Henry had cautioned Meade not to become "mere food for
      powder." Meade survived the war but never returned to science.

      In early 1861, Henry promoted the work of the balloonist T.S.C. Lowe,
      believing he could be "of advantage to the Government in assisting their
      reconnaissance of the district and country around Washington." In mid-June,
      Lowe ascended from the site now occupied by the National Air and Space
      Museum to prove the feasibility of communicating by telegraph between
      balloons and the ground. With Henry's support, Lowe became head of a
      balloon corps that was to provide Union commanders with accurate
      information. According to historian Bruce, this was the first successful
      military air force in American history.

      The height of the Smithsonian Building's highest tower made it a superior
      location to test signaling systems. Surviving manuscripts refer to the
      testing of different signaling systems between the Smithsonian and the Coast
      Survey office on Capitol Hill, between the Smithsonian and Fort Washington
      sixteen miles south of the city, and between the Smithsonian and the U.S.
      Soldier's Home, the second highest elevation in Washington.

      A famous anecdote relating to signaling appears in Carl Sandburg's biography
      of Lincoln. He writes, "One dark night Lincoln with four other men climbed
      up the tower of the Smithsonian Institution. Toward hills encircling
      Washington they flashed signals. The next day an army officer marched into
      Lincoln's office a prisoner, Professor Joseph Henry, secretary and director
      of the Smithsonian Institution, the most eminent man of learning in the
      employ of the United States Government. 'Mr. President,' said the officer,
      'I told you a month ago Professor Henry is a rebel. Last night at midnight
      he flashed red lights from the top of his building, signaling to the Secesh.
      I saw them myself.'

      Lincoln turned. 'Now you're caught! What have you to say, Professor Henry,
      why sentence of death should not immediately be pronounced upon you?' Then,
      turning to the army officer, Lincoln explained that on the previous evening
      he and others had accompanied Henry to the Smithsonian tower and
      experimented with new army signals."

      Although Henry devoted many hours of unpaid labor to the Union effort, he
      was a target of rumors questioning his loyalty. His opposition to a series
      of abolitionist lectures in the Smithsonian Building was one cause. His
      earlier friendship with Jefferson Davis was another. Davis had been a
      regent of the Smithsonian from 1847 to 1851 and proved to be one of Henry's
      most consistent supporters and an effective advocate in Congress of the
      Smithsonian's interests.

      In trying to assert the Smithsonian's international scientific character,
      Henry may have seemed less than patriotic. He was criticized for not flying
      the United States flag over the Smithsonian Building throughout the war.
      His reason was that he wanted the institution to be viewed as independent.
      In addition, no Smithsonian employees actually served in the military.
      Spencer Baird was eligible but hired a "colored substitute" for three years
      at a cost of $278. Solomon Brown wrote Baird in September 1864 that he had
      received a draft notice but was "Exempted on the grounds of Physical
      disability." Chief Clerk William Jones Rhees and paleontologist Fielding B.
      Meek were also drafted but were excused by the examining surgeon.

      Henry, somewhat bitterly, made this remark to Baird near the end of the war.
      "I know that I shall not be considered as good a patriot as some of your
      friends I could name, who, while expressing with one hand in violent
      gesticulations their devotion to their country have with the other been
      filling their pockets with the spoils of office."

      Despite the turmoil of four years of war, the Smithsonian emerged in a
      surprisingly strong position. To explain this, we need to look to Joseph
      Henry, who never lost sight of what he wanted the Smithsonian to be. With
      his vision of an institution devoted to the support of basic research and
      dissemination of its findings throughout the world, he took the
      "interruptions and embarrassments" caused by the war and used them to
      further realize that vision. As a result, both the Smithsonian Institution
      and the nation became stronger.

      We are indebted to Kathleen Dorman for providing this summary and sharing
      her research. For the complete text and more information and links
      associated with the Joseph Henry Papers project go to:

      Missed previous newsletters? Visit CivilWarStudies at The Smithsonian
      Associates for a complete list and full text of previous articles,
      information on our acclaimed Civil War related events, as well as other
      outstanding learning opportunities: www.CivilWarStudies.org

      The Newsletter Staff takes sole responsibility for any inaccuracies and
      omissions, as well as for any good stuff you may find here. We regret that
      we are not staffed to answer extremely vague or extremely specific
      questions, to settle bar bets, to research esoteric topics, to do your
      homework, or to write term papers for you, even though any of that would be
      more interesting than our real jobs. But, we will try to answer all
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      can't find the answer either.)
      Susan Dennis, Editor
      Julia Long, Webmaster
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