Sunday, June 25, 2017

Reenacting the Civil War at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne 2017

~ Spirit of '61 ~
Lincoln insisted that the stars representing the
states that have seceded remain so they can
continue to be represented in our national flag.
Historic Fort Wayne located in downtown Detroit hosts numerous historical events every spring, summer, and fall, including the great Civil War Days, this year taking place in the heat of a Michigan June.
I think reenacting at the fort is a sort of pride for us who participate in the hobby, for it's our own way to help support the old structures; visitors pay a very nominal fee to see the 1860s come to life by way of living historians in buildings that housed original Civil War soldiers over 150 years ago. And I love that we do reenact on land that our ancestors were mustered in on..
I spent time taking pictures with my "stealth camera" at the event in the hope that they would tell a story of life - military and civilian - during the Civil War.
In addition to my photographs, I am using quotes from those who were there during this time of great division in our country to help accentuate the images.
Are you ready to go back?
Portal to the Past:
looking through a stovepipe hole through time.

Let's begin this journey by way of an excellent source book called 'Hardtack and Coffee - The Unwritten Story of Army Life' written by John D. Billings and published not too long after the Civil War had ended. Billings served with the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War in both Sickles' Third and Hancock's Second Corps, and was also Department Commander of the Massachusetts Grand Army of the Republic.
One of the things Billings mentions is General Orders No. 4, from the very beginning of the War, where "many men had made valiant and well-disciplined peace soldiers, who, now that one of the real needs of a well organized militia was upon us, were not at all thirsty for further military glory. But pride stood in the way of their frankness. They were ashamed in this hour of their country's peril to withdraw from the militia, for they feared to face public opinion.
The moment a man's declination for further service was made known, unless his reasons were of the very best, straight-way he was hooted at for his cowardice, and for a time his existence was made quite unpleasant in his own immediate neighborhood." 
These men did not have any declination at all to fight...for fight they did!

Meeting President Lincoln was an important event for Union soldiers.
Abraham Lincoln had a strong and almost mystical devotion to ordinary Americans. In his July 4, 1861 special message to Congress, Lincoln described the loyalty of  “common soldiers… and common sailors” who “have successfully resisted the traitorous efforts of those, whose commands, but an honor before, they obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of the plain people. They understand without an argument, that destroying the government, which was made by Washington, means no good to them.”
"Mr. Lincoln’s manner toward enlisted men with whom he occasionally met and talked, 
was always delightful in its bonhomie (geniality) and its absolute freedom from 
anything like condescension."
“Honor to the Soldier, and Sailor everywhere, who bravely bear his country’s cause. Honor also to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field, and serves, as he best can, the same cause – honor to him, only less than to him, who braves, for the common good, the storms of heaven and the storms of battle.” President Abraham Lincoln
It is doubtful if any war president in American history ever elicited as pervasive and as enthusiastic admiration among the fighting forces as did the railsplitter from Illinois. 
The warmth with which he was regarded is suggested by the nick-names applied to him. Relatively few soldiers spoke of him as ‘President Lincoln,’ Mr. Lincoln,’ or ‘the President’...
...but thousands referred to him as ‘Old Abe,’ ‘Father Abraham,’ or ‘Honest Abe'…far and away the most widely used nickname for the president was the intimate and affectionate ‘Old Abe.’ This term appears in letters and diaries several times as frequently as any other.

~Frederick Douglass and President Lincoln~

Presidential aide John Hay wrote in his diary: 
“Fred Douglass in company with Sen. Pomeroy 
visited the President yesterday. 
Frederick intends to go south and help 
the recruiting among his people.”

"It was an interesting sight to see a column break up when the order came to halt, whether for rest or other reason...
...scattering to the sides of the road where the men would 
sit or lie down, lying back on their knapsacks 
if they had them, or stretching at full length on the ground."

"The first thing in the morning is drill. Then drill, then drill again. Then drill, drill a little more drill. Then drill, and lastly, drill. When this war is over, I will whip the man that says 'fall in' to me!".

"Down in the mouth. Only paid a week ago and have not a cent now, having bluffed away all that I did not send home. I don't think I will play poker anymore."

"The days could be one everlasting monotone: yesterday, today, and tomorrow."

"The Rebs are getting real saucy. They attacked our pickets and kept up a pretty brisk fire for several hours. At last we were ordered out in line of battle and our Artillery soon made them skedaddle."

"For two long hours we were in the midst of this lead and iron hail, until two of our flag-bearers were shot down, and twenty-six bullet holes torn in our banner."

"I'd rather fight them here than follow them and fight them on their own ground. But I'll tell you, I'd rather not fight them fellows at all, for they are so careless with guns they will sometimes aim them right at a fellow!"

"A terrible roar of muskets and artillery was deafening and our boys were being killed and wounded all around us at a terrible rate. Our revolving rifles were so hot we could not hold them in our hands."

"Our  regiment drove the Yankees back at the point of the bayonet. It is an awful sight to see the wounded and the dead."
"You can form some idea of the terrible searching character of the (gun) fire, when I tell you that the very rabbits in their nests were killed by it."

"The amputating table for this ward is at the end of the hall (and) the sight I there beheld made me shudder and sick at heart. A stream of blood ran from the table  into a tub in which was  an arm and the hand, which but a short time before 
grasped the musket and battled for the right, was hanging over the edge of the tub...a lifeless thing."

Next up is a bit of history too many are not aware of:
The Allegheny Arsenal, established in 1814, was an important supply and manufacturing center for the Union Army during the Civil War, and the site of the single largest civilian disaster during the war.
On Wednesday, September 17, 1862, around 2 pm, the arsenal exploded. The explosion shattered windows in the surrounding community and was heard in Pittsburgh, over two miles away. At the sound of the first explosion, Col. John Symington, Commander of the Arsenal, rushed from his quarters and made his way up the hillside to the lab. As he approached, he heard the sound of a second explosion, followed by a third.
The most commonly held view of the cause of the explosion was that the metal shoe of a horse had struck a spark which touched off loose powder in the roadway near the lab, which then traveled up onto the porch where it set off several barrels of gunpowder.
It was speculated that it had been caused "by the leaking out of powder when one of the barrels was being placed on the platform." In fact the problem of leaking barrels seemed to be the one point of agreement among all the witnesses. Alexander McBride, the Superintendent of the Lab, had repeatedly complained that the powder shipped by Dupont and Company was delivered in defective barrels with loose covers.
The explosion at the Arsenal was overshadowed by the Battle of Antietam, which occurred on the same day near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland.
I am very impressed with these two 21st Michigan members for the research and presentation they do to teach about the Allegheny Arsenal incident, something 
that I was not aware of until I heard them speak to visitors.

Encouraging young men to go off and fight was commonplace:
"Just take your gun and go,
for Ruth can drive the oxen, John,
and I can use the hoe."

He's a good ol' Reb, "Cousin" Charlie~
"Dear Cousin,
Soldiering is quite different to what it was when I was with the army before. It will take me a long time to get use to many things that I have to do. But one thing I am blest to inform you of & that is we have preaching twice every Sunday when the weather will permit. We also have prayer meeting every night in our camp.
Write to me upon reception (and) give my love to all the family, servants included & believe me as ever your affectionate cousin."

“Mother, I have news to tell you which I hope you won’t blame me for. 
I was married last month on 26th to the one I have spoke to you so often 
about but then I did not think of marrying until this was over but we both 
changed our minds and married while Andy was with us. 
The ceremony was read by W.C. Harris, an old friend from home and now 
a stationed Preacher at this place or near here. Ma the only thing that 
worries me is that you did not see us married.”

And there you are...our time spent in the turmoil of the early 1860s in both the north and the south---with the military and the citizens. It may not be the largest of events, but that's part of its charm (though I do hope to see it grow a bit).
Many thanks must go to Tom Berlucchi and the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, for they are the good folks who keep this gem up and running.
In fact, coming up soon in Passion for the Past will be another adventure at Fort Wayne...only I'll be going back a bit further in time - - to the good old colony days!
Stay tuned....

Until next time, see you in time.

Some of the text herein came from THIS site
Some of the text also came from the following books (with links):
Into the Tornado of War 
From Fields of Fire and Glory
Time/Life - Tenting Tonight
Hardtack and Coffee - The Unwritten Story of Army Life

~    ~

Saturday, June 17, 2017

This Ain't the Summer of Love (part 2): The Monterey Pop Festival - 50 Years On

An original advertising poster
Friday June 16 through Sunday June 18:  the days and dates between 1967 and 2017 match up perfectly.
And why wouldn't they?  1967 was a magical musical year,  full of awakenings not seen since...well...maybe the Renaissance.
Okay,  maybe I shouldn't go that far,  but it truly was a remarkable year in the pop music world.  I mean,  it was only two weeks earlier that The Beatles released the album of the century,  "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,"  and releases by the Doors,  Jefferson Airplane,  and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were also at hand. 
Coming up on the horizon?
Debut albums by Janis Joplin  (with Big Brother and the Holding Company),  Pink Floyd,  and Traffic.
Then there was the Monterrey Pop Festival,  which took place on the dates mentioned - Friday June 16 through Sunday June 18.
This one three-day event would literally change the future of rock and roll music,  for it introduced to major record company label executives a new world of electric music for the mind and body...
If,  through some miracle,  I was given a choice of being transported through time to attend either Monterey or Woodstock,  which took place two years later in August of 1969,  Monterey would win for me hands down.  In my opinion,  Monterey had so much more musical variety to offer than they had at Woodstock.  Where Woodstock musically purposely pushed the counter-culture,  Monterey just  "let it all hang out"  as pop artists freely and without care mingled with the new underground.  Where else could you find Peter Tork of the Monkees introduce the Buffalo Springfield?  And when watching the movie you can see festival organizer John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas trying to get ahold of Dionne Warwick to perform.  Right there on the same stage as The Who and Jimi Hendrix.  
Monterey had an innocence - the musicians,  the announcers,  and the patrons - for a festival this size and nature was something new...never tried before. 
If you're going to San Francisco
be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...
Upwards of 100,000 people attended – some say it was closer to 200,000 - over its three-day schedule,  many of whom had descended upon the west coast inspired by the same spirit expressed in the Scott McKenzie song  “San Francisco  (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair),”  a song written by John Phillips expressly as a promotional tune for the festival.  And I love this portion of the film of  " '60s awe as a blonde fan waits for the music festival to begin.  She's breathless and,  years later,  seems endearingly optimistic:  "Haven't you ever been to a love in?  Gawd!  I think it's gonna be like Easter and Christmas and New Year's and your birthday all together,  you know?  The vibrations are just gonna be floating everywhere!"
It was a true embodiment of the fabled "Summer of Love."

And plenty of fresh new music abounded for an audience that responded with child-like glee and wonder.
Simon and Garfunkel at Monterey
Slow down,  you move too fast...

Friday,  June 16,  saw
The Association
Lou Rawls
Johnny Rivers
Eric Burdon and the Animals
Simon and Garfunkel


Saturday,  June 17,  was the BIG day:
Our love is like a ball and chain...

Canned Heat
Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin
Country Joe and the Fish
Al Kooper
Butterfield Blues Band
Electric Flag
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Steve Miller Band
Moby Grape
Hugh Masekela
The Byrds
Laura Nyro
Jefferson Airplane
Booker T and the MGs
The Mar-keys
Otis Redding

The Who exploded into fire and light
for their generation

And then Sunday,  June 18,  had
Ravi Shankar
Blues Project
Big Brother with Janis Joplin (for a second time)
Buffalo Springfield  (with guest David Crosby)
The Who
The Grateful Dead
Jimi Hendix Experience
Scott McKenzie
Mamas and Papas

The thing to remember is that many of the artists who performed here,  such as Hendrix,  Joplin,  Steve Miller,  the Grateful Dead,  were at the very beginning of their national and international popularity.  No one had any idea they would become the legendary figures that they have.
“One of the most iconic rock 'n' roll moments in musical history was when Jimi Hendrix threw his guitar down onstage and doused it with Ronson lighter fluid,  lights it,  and then leans back in this sacrificial rite of giving his guitar to the gods,"  photographer Tom Gundelfinger O'Neal remembered.

The Summer of Love that followed Monterey may have failed to usher in a lasting era of peace and love,  but the festival introduced much of the music that has come to define that particular place and time.

Musically, you can relive  (or visit for the first time)  some of the great sounds that came from that stage:  click HERE for a CD box set
Visually,  you can also visit via a beautifully restored video by clicking HERE 
The magnificent CD and DVD box sets available have more social history of the times than any musical documentary I have seen;  your senses will be immersed like little else can do.  Do you want to know the way it really was on the west coast during the Summer of Love?  Listen and watch the Monterey Pop Festival box sets.
They truly are a time capsule of a special moment that made 1967.

Until next time,  see you in time.

By the way,  want to read a bit about the 50th anniversary of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album? 
Click HERE