Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Old Newspaperman Returns from New York


This is only Civil War related because I was speaking last night to the Civil War Forum of Metropolitan New York, an hospitable and appreciative bunch who put me up at the Bentley Hotel and fed me an excellent meal at Draught 55 restaurant. Join them if you live down thataway, and sign up for their upcoming bus trip to West Point.
Forgoing sightseeing, I have parked myself at the Moynihan Train Hall, the old post office building (with the iconic slogan carved around its top) where my grandfather Joseph Gaffney worked for many years. (His son, my uncle, was killed at the Battle of the Bulge.)
In September 1985 I had a memorable meeting with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (after whom the station is named) at the tiny office of the Glens Falls Unit of the Albany local of The Newspaper Guild, which was seeking its first contract at The Post-Star, where I worked as a reporter. I also was chairman of the Guild unit. We organized most of the paper, and our first and only contract won the first ever benefits for its mailroom employees. Moynihan showed up in cagey support, and I tip my hat to him in the great beyond.


Saturday, May 21, 2022

Casemates in Review

A layer of sod in the wall helped protect this barracks against cannon balls, according to one of the excellent guides I talked to Friday at Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, NY. It's a 1970s reconstruction of the Revolutionary War fort commanded by Col. Peter Gansevoort (who was grandfather to the writer Herman Melville). Fort Stanwix successfully resisted a British siege in August 1777, which contributed to the American victories 110 miles east at Saratoga in September and October. That northern campaign was the turning point of the war (and Benedict Arnold played a key role at both locations).
 I think the sod is why they call it a casemate:

Casemate also is the name of the publisher of my two nonfiction books. (The historical novel The Last Circle of Ulysses Grant is published by Square Circle Press.) Those two biographies, of James Montgomery and Gordon Granger, have received a good joint review by Ben Powers in ARGunners Magazine -- which I appreciate.
The patient wife and I stopped at Fort Stanwix on our way back from Syracuse, where she snapped my picture pontificating (not singing an operatic aria) to the Onondaga County Civil War Round Table.

My next scheduled speaking gig is Monday evening in Manhattan at the Civil War Forum of Metropolitan New York.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Sojourner Truth's Grandson Served with Montgomery


In this 1863 photo of Sojourner Truth (in the Library of Congress), she holds in her lap a photograph of James Caldwell, her 19-year-old grandson who was a soldier in the 54th Massachusetts. Another soldier in that regiment was Lewis Douglass, son of another famous Black abolitionist, Frederick Douglass.

Caldwell was apparently captured at Grimball's Landing, SC, on July 16, 1863, just before the regiment was temporarily removed from Montgomery's brigade command. He was exchanged in early 1865, before the war ended. How the rest of his life went is unknown, according to blogger Tim Talbott.

I found out about Caldwell last week while visiting a new state park named after Truth near Kingston, NY, where I gave my first talk for the new biography of Montgomery to the Ulster County Civil War Round Table. It was their first in-person meeting since the onset of Covid, and held in the county's legislative chamber. The next gigs (during which I'll throw in some Granger and Juneteenth, and maybe a little Grant) are May 19 to the Onondaga County Civil War Round Table in Syracuse, and May 23 in Manhattan to the Civil War Forum of Metropolitan New York.

I had never been to Kingston before, and had not realized a) that the British burned it in 1777 in a late, ineffectual effort to aid General John Burgoyne, and b) that George Washington's headquarters was not there but a considerable distance south, in Newburgh. Apparently, I have a lot to learn.

NPR Adds Editor's Note to Juneteenth Story

 NPR National Correspondent John Burnett this morning added an editor's note to his June 20 story about General Gordon Granger and June...