Book Chat
A Bohemian Brigade
The Civil War Correspondents
James M. Perry

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 11/25/07 and covered Chapters 12, & 13.

11/25/2007 9:11 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Good evening once again everyone. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Tonight we will have our sixth session of BOOK CHAT on : A BOHEMIAN BRIGADE, THE CIVIL WAR CORRESPONDENTS, MOSTLY ROUGH SOMETIMES READY, by James Perry. This week we are discussion centers on Chapters TWELVE and THIRTEEN.

11/25/2007 9:11 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Last week, we discussed Union correspondents who found themselves Confederate POW’s, General Grant’s “favorite” reporter Sylvanus Cadwallader, and the now infamous Chapter 11, which if anyone understands the significance of it, please fill in the rest of us, because after reading it three times it still has me confused as to the relevance. Anyone have anything that needs to be added to last week’s discussion?

11/25/2007 9:13 pm (et) amhistoryguy: If not, let's move on.

11/25/2007 9:13 pm (et) amhistoryguy: CHAPTER 12 - GETTYSBURG - I hate to say it, but more confusion in this chapter, IMO. Perry begins by stating that “Gettysburg was a difficult battle to write about because the town was fairly remote from railroad depots and telegraph offices.” First, if that were true it would only affect getting what was written out to the papers, not the writing of reports.

11/25/2007 9:13 pm (et) Babs: Just that Perry referred to the Jolly Congress a couple of times in this week's reading and I thought, "Oh yeah. They were in that weird chapter."

11/25/2007 9:14 pm (et) amhistoryguy: On page 216, Perry writes, “The three New York dailies struggled to keep up with the fighting hour by hour, using the telegraph without budgetary concerns.” So there were telegraph lines. I have my doubt as to the railroad depots being a problem, as in Turner’s, “Victory Road the Rails,” he points out that although many lines were damaged, “By July 3, while the battle of Gettysburg was at its height, Haupt was moving supplies over the Western Maryland at the rate of 1,500 tons per daily, and his returning trains were bringing out thousands of wounded to Baltimore hospitals.

11/25/2007 9:15 pm (et) Babs: That bothered me too. I thought that Gettysburg wasted their time restoring that depot if there was no railroad.

11/25/2007 9:15 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Yes, he did refer back to them a couple of times, even though only a couple were journalists, and foreigners at that.

11/25/2007 9:16 pm (et) Susansweet: He also says it is difficult to come up with a model army reporter for any war then names Coffin as the foremost battlefield correspondent.

11/25/2007 9:17 pm (et) amhistoryguy: There was a RR, Gettysburg line, which connected to several others. Herman Haupt sent 400 men before the battle of Gettysburg to begin to repair lines damaged.

11/25/2007 9:17 pm (et) Susansweet: He seems to use Jolly Congress to get Freemantle in to the story

11/25/2007 9:18 pm (et) Babs: Also, I remember when we read a book about Antietam the point was made that the aftermath was worse there than at GB because Sharpsburg was isolated and GB was not.

11/25/2007 9:18 pm (et) amhistoryguy: And he sure gets Freemantle into the story a lot.

11/25/2007 9:18 pm (et) Susansweet: And he isn't a member of the Bohemian Brigade.

11/25/2007 9:18 pm (et) amhistoryguy: It seems to me that from time to time Perry forgets what he is writing about, quoting Freemantle extensively, as well as modern writers, Catton and Foote. His quoting of Foote is as if Foote were a reporter on the field. He doesn’t bother to identify him as a modern writer.

11/25/2007 9:19 pm (et) Susansweet: I found that interesting how much he quoted Foote and Catton.

11/25/2007 9:19 pm (et) Susansweet: not what I would expect in this book.

11/25/2007 9:19 pm (et) Babs: Oh, good point! Someone new to studying the CW might not know that.

11/25/2007 9:20 pm (et) mobile_96: I wouldn't either, seems he should be quoting the reporters only.

11/25/2007 9:20 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Perry really wanted to tell the story of the battle of Gettysburg, and he used Freemantle, Catton and Foote to do that. He should have been telling the story of reporters at Gettysburg.

11/25/2007 9:21 pm (et) Susansweet: And I am sure there are many good quotes from these other men, the Bohemians , since they were writers.

11/25/2007 9:21 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Perry even mentions the "shoes" at Gettysburg.

11/25/2007 9:21 pm (et) Susansweet: That's it , that was what was bothering me.

11/25/2007 9:21 pm (et) mobile_96: And the spencers.

11/25/2007 9:21 pm (et) Susansweet: I was looking for the reporters and was getting the battle.

11/25/2007 9:21 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I thought it was interesting that inaccuracies resulting in hastily getting news out, was blamed on the public eagerness to have the latest news. Perry admits, that this is “a little unfair,” and he goes on to take an unprofessional poke at internet sites on CW telegraphy.

11/25/2007 9:22 pm (et) Susansweet: Perry seems to print the myths.

11/25/2007 9:23 pm (et) Susansweet: That internet jab was jarring.

11/25/2007 9:23 pm (et) mobile_96: Raises another point on the accuracy of Perry's reporting on the reporters.

11/25/2007 9:23 pm (et) Susansweet: Takes you out of the era you are reading about.

11/25/2007 9:23 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I think I understand now why the work has no footnotes or endnotes.

11/25/2007 9:23 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The internet jab seemed way out of line, IMO.

11/25/2007 9:24 pm (et) mobile_96: Extremely out of line.

11/25/2007 9:24 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Especially considering the quality of Perry's own research.

11/25/2007 9:25 pm (et) Susansweet: The part I enjoyed was Coffin 's quotes.

11/25/2007 9:25 pm (et) Susansweet: The real reporter at Gettysburg.

11/25/2007 9:25 pm (et) mobile_96: Maybe if he had used that in a final chapter in a conclusion on yesterday vs today, might have worked, but not in midtext

11/25/2007 9:26 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I wanted to highlight only positive points in these final chapters, but found it nearly impossible to ignore things like his slam on internet sites.

11/25/2007 9:26 pm (et) amhistoryguy: There are bits and pieces of "good stuff" in and among the chapters, a person really has to dig though.

11/25/2007 9:27 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The story of Sam Wilkerson and his son is gut wrenching, yet deserving of only half a page in Perry’s book.

11/25/2007 9:28 pm (et) mobile_96: Looks like he added a lot just as space filler, so his book would be a Book, and not a pamphlet.

11/25/2007 9:28 pm (et) Susansweet: I had to read that twice too to see what he was talking about as it came up so fast.

11/25/2007 9:28 pm (et) Babs: For some reason in mid sentence about that death we had to be told that Vicksburg fell.

11/25/2007 9:28 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Perry could have mentioned that Wilkerson's 19 year old son was wounded in the leg, and when Wilkerson found him, he was lying unattended in a barn, where he died in his father's arms. That is why Wilkerson seemed so angry at the army.

11/25/2007 9:29 pm (et) Susansweet: I agree I would like to have known more and not just hit with the "ending"

11/25/2007 9:29 pm (et) Babs: Susan, I agree that Coffin sounds like someone I would like to read more of.

11/25/2007 9:30 pm (et) mobile_96: He bounces around like he was on speed, or something.

11/25/2007 9:30 pm (et) Susansweet: Oh yeah I would like to read a book just on Coffin and maybe Reid.

11/25/2007 9:30 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Perry might have been better off telling the story of individual reporters, but that would have required some research and organization.

11/25/2007 9:31 pm (et) mobile_96: Wonder if there are any books available on Coffin, especially the ones he authored.

11/25/2007 9:31 pm (et) Susansweet: Way too much work when you are on vacation.

11/25/2007 9:31 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Most of these reporters wrote the story of the war and their part in it.

11/25/2007 9:31 pm (et) Susansweet: I looked in the back and all the dates are 1800's.

11/25/2007 9:33 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Using the bibliography in Blue & Gray in Black & White, Coffin wrote, "Four years of fighting, a volume of personal observations."

11/25/2007 9:34 pm (et) Susansweet: I just looked on amazon they are there but even used they are 30 dollars or more.

11/25/2007 9:34 pm (et) amhistoryguy: He also wrote, "Redeeming the Republic."

11/25/2007 9:35 pm (et) Babs: Susan, Have they been reprinted?

11/25/2007 9:35 pm (et) mobile_96: Seat of Empire is available in digital

11/25/2007 9:36 pm (et) amhistoryguy: There is quite a bit about Coffin in Harris's book as well.

11/25/2007 9:36 pm (et) Susansweet: Yes they are Babs that is where the expense comes in I guess.

11/25/2007 9:37 pm (et) Susansweet: Paperback and 33 dollars.

11/25/2007 9:37 pm (et) amhistoryguy: So that is a good thing about the Perry book, he points out interesting characters for us to find out about on our own. : )

11/25/2007 9:37 pm (et) Susansweet: 1866. From the Prefatory Note: This volume, though historic, is not a history of the Rebellion, but a record of personal observations and experiences during the war, with an occasional look at affairs in general to give clearness to the narrative. The time has not arrived for the writing of an impartial history of the conflict between Slavery and Freedom in the United States. Contents: Beginning of the Conflict; Around Washington; Bull Run; The Fall of 1861; Affairs in the West; Central Kentucky; The Opening of the Campaign in Tennessee; Pittsburgh Landing, Fort Pillow, and Memphis; Invasion of Maryland; Invasion of Kentucky; From Harper's Ferry to Fredericksburg; Battle of Fredericksburg; The Winter at Falmouth; Chancellorsville; Calvary Operations; The Atlantic Coast; The Iron-Clads in Action; The Invasion of Pennsylvania; The Battle of Gettysburg; From the Rapidan to Cold Harbor; To Petersburg; Siege Operations; Third Invasion of Maryland; Sherman's Army; Christianity and Barbarism; Scenes in Savannah; Sherman in South Carolina; South Carolina Before the War; Siege Operations; Third Invasion of Maryland; Sherman's Army; Sumter; Charleston; The Last Campaign; Richmond; The Confederate Loan; and Surrender of Lee. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishing. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

11/25/2007 9:38 pm (et) Susansweet: That is Four Years of Fighting blub.

11/25/2007 9:38 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Anything more on this chapter?

11/25/2007 9:38 pm (et) Susansweet: I agree Dave at least he has pointed us to some people we would like to read more about.

11/25/2007 9:39 pm (et) bluelady: especially since he doesn't go into detail about them much here!

11/25/2007 9:40 pm (et) amhistoryguy: CHAPTER THIRTEEN - THE REPORTER WHO WAS KISSED BY LINCOLN - Right off, Perry labels Henry Wing, “the only truly endearing reporter to cover the war for either side.” Now while Wing’s story is certainly interesting, and worth relating, I always shudder when an author uses “Only” the way Perry does. I also find it odd that Connecticut born Wing, strolled over to Ohio born Grant’s tent, to, according to Perry, “hoping for a last word from the generalisimo.” Grant is a “generalisimo,” Perry is too cute for my tastes.

11/25/2007 9:40 pm (et) Susansweet: Right blue.

11/25/2007 9:40 pm (et) Babs: I have the other book called Bohemian Brigade. I hope to move it up in the "to read" pile to compare it.

11/25/2007 9:40 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The Starr book is very good Babs.

11/25/2007 9:41 pm (et) Susansweet: Even the title of the chapter is too cute.

11/25/2007 9:41 pm (et) bluelady: Maybe that is the book you meant to discuss? the other bohemian brigade?

11/25/2007 9:42 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Yeah, that the ticket Blue, unfortunately, not.

11/25/2007 9:42 pm (et) Babs: I braced myself fearing Perry was going to use this as "evidence" questioning Lincoln's sexuality.

11/25/2007 9:42 pm (et) Susansweet: I need to read the other one before my book group at the Drum reads this one !!!

11/25/2007 9:43 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I hadn't thought of that Babs,

11/25/2007 9:43 pm (et) Susansweet: Babs that is what I thought when I read the title

11/25/2007 9:43 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Guess we should count our blessings.

11/25/2007 9:43 pm (et) Susansweet: Right.

11/25/2007 9:44 pm (et) amhistoryguy: A shame Ida Tarbell seems to be the source of all the info on Wing. For myself, I saw nothing in what Ida wrote to indicate Wing “turned her to jelly,” as Perry suggests, or that “she was more excited than Wing or Sam Wilkerson” in telling Wing’s story. So after singing the praises of Ida Tarbell, Perry concludes with “Ida Tarbell took liberties in telling Henry Wing’s story, but basically, it’s all true.” I kind of would like to know what is true and what is not when I read history, but maybe that’s just me.

11/25/2007 9:44 pm (et) secret squirrel: Blue & Gray in Black & White check ebay cheap prices

11/25/2007 9:45 pm (et) bluelady: And only basicall using one source to tell supposedly facts about someone?

11/25/2007 9:45 pm (et) secret squirrel: True guy, he shouldn't have written these events as facts.

11/25/2007 9:46 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Harris makes liberal use of end notes and sources.

11/25/2007 9:47 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Nothing like getting to the end of a book supposedly on history, only to read, "well, basically this is all true." Ugh !

11/25/2007 9:47 pm (et) Susansweet: I wonder if Wing's horse was really still there.

11/25/2007 9:47 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Might still be there : )

11/25/2007 9:48 pm (et) bluelady: When I read that I was wondering the same thing I mean deep in rebel territory...and they needed horses...I'm sure it wasn't there!

11/25/2007 9:48 pm (et) Susansweet: Naa he went back and found it.

11/25/2007 9:48 pm (et) Susansweet: Bet that is the made up part.

11/25/2007 9:48 pm (et) secret squirrel: Yes, by train.

11/25/2007 9:49 pm (et) mobile_96: Had to be a Special.

11/25/2007 9:49 pm (et) Susansweet: And the horse bit though it's leather strap to go to Wing.

11/25/2007 9:50 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Had an Irish friend of mine tell a story once that was so good, but so unlikely, that at the end of it I said, "that can't be true," and with a thick Irish accent, he replied, "Of Course it's not true, but it's a lovely story."

11/25/2007 9:50 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Kind of felt that way when reading about Wing.

11/25/2007 9:50 pm (et) bluelady: Exactly.

11/25/2007 9:51 pm (et) mobile_96: Same here guy.

11/25/2007 9:51 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Although basically, the story is true : )

11/25/2007 9:51 pm (et) Susansweet: I thought it was a superhero story.

11/25/2007 9:52 pm (et) Babs: Me too. I could see the film sprockets go by as I read it.

11/25/2007 9:52 pm (et) Susansweet: Oh that's what that was !!

11/25/2007 9:52 pm (et) bluelady: So could we just say that basically this chapter is true?

11/25/2007 9:53 pm (et) secret squirrel: Yep.

11/25/2007 9:53 pm (et) amhistoryguy: One interesting thing about Wing that Perry doesn't mention. Wing was at the surrender of Lee to Grant. Wing had an officer come out of the signing and wipe his forehead with a rag three times to indicate the surrender had taken place - Wing then rode to the nearest telegraph and got the scoop on the surrender.

11/25/2007 9:53 pm (et) mobile_96: Or close to it.

11/25/2007 9:53 pm (et) bluelady: I was wondering if any of the people that gave positive comment to this book actually read it first.

11/25/2007 9:54 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Both Wing and Cadwallader were there, but were forced to remain outside.

11/25/2007 9:54 pm (et) bluelady: amhg...I read ahead...he does mention that later.

11/25/2007 9:54 pm (et) Susansweet: Dang Dave ya gave away the ending.

11/25/2007 9:55 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I did. At first read I missed alot, and thought it was a good book. I guess this also shows the value of reading for book chat.

11/25/2007 9:55 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Opps, sorry.

11/25/2007 9:55 pm (et) Susansweet: It's okay.

11/25/2007 9:56 pm (et) Susansweet: I do find I get more out a book that is discussed with others.

11/25/2007 9:56 pm (et) bluelady: That wasn't meant as a swipe to you Dave.. I was thinking of all those "advance praises" on the back cover.

11/25/2007 9:56 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Wing sounds like another reporter I'd like to know more about, without reading Ida's work on him.

11/25/2007 9:57 pm (et) secret squirrel: Me too Susan, I linger on the unimportant aspects.

11/25/2007 9:57 pm (et) Susansweet: I agree , I thought he would be good to find out more .

11/25/2007 9:57 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I didn't take it that way Bluelady, but I am a bit embarrased at the praise I gave it .

11/25/2007 9:57 pm (et) Susansweet: Will be so interesting to hear my speaker this month at Round Table as he is doing Bohemian Brigade and I am guessing I will learn much more there.

11/25/2007 9:57 pm (et) secret squirrel: Let's read one of her books, maybe we can tear her up too.

11/25/2007 9:58 pm (et) Susansweet: Will post a summary after I hear him speak.

11/25/2007 9:58 pm (et) Susansweet: If you like.

11/25/2007 9:58 pm (et) bluelady: But we can say one thing...and its already has been said...we did learn about some interesting characters for sure.

11/25/2007 9:58 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I hope you keep us informed on what your speaker presents too Susan.

11/25/2007 9:59 pm (et) Susansweet: I will do that. I did post his website. It is nicely done.

11/25/2007 9:59 pm (et) Susansweet: Torin Finney is his name.

11/25/2007 9:59 pm (et) Babs: Susan, Is he speaking about the subject in general or this book in particular? Either way I would like to see your comments.

11/25/2007 10:00 pm (et) amhistoryguy: And....I go back to what I said when Perry made such a big deal about his being a reporter writing on reporters - I'd rather have a researcher do a good job writing on reporters, or any other subject for that matter.

11/25/2007 10:00 pm (et) Susansweet: He is speaking about the actual bohemians as he is a reenactor.

11/25/2007 10:00 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Anything else on tonight's chat?

11/25/2007 10:01 pm (et) mobile_96: Sounds like a better presentation in store for you than this book.

11/25/2007 10:01 pm (et) bluelady: Sounds like he was practicing his reporting while writing this book...he certainly was not doing it as an investigative reporter.

11/25/2007 10:01 pm (et) bluelady: No...will we finish it next week?.

11/25/2007 10:02 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Next week we wrap this one up CHAPTER FOURTEEN, FIFTEEN, AND THE EPILOGUE - about 35 pages. Thanks everyone for participating, and I hope to have everyone back again next week.

11/25/2007 10:02 pm (et) Susansweet: Over five hundred field correspondents covered the Civil War for hundreds of newspapers North and South between the years of 1861 and 1865. These intrepid reporters and artists became known as the "Bohemian Brigade," and brought scenes and stories of life and death in battle, in camp, and on campaign to the eyes of millions of citizens eager to follow the unfolding course of this epic event in American history.

11/25/2007 10:02 pm (et) secret squirrel: But, even though this book is poorly researched, I really have learned alot.

11/25/2007 10:02 pm (et) bluelady: Said with hopes of getting on to something better! :)

11/25/2007 10:02 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Glad to hear that ss, I have too.

11/25/2007 10:02 pm (et) Susansweet: Representing such papers as the New York Times, Harper's Weekly, the Charleston Mercury, and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, the "Bohemians" came from all walks of life, from professional writers to former.

11/25/2007 10:03 pm (et) mobile_96: Thank you guy.

11/25/2007 10:03 pm (et) bluelady: Agreed there Dave and ss...

11/25/2007 10:03 pm (et) Susansweet: Soldiers to small-town clerks and amateur artists. A few were killed, wounded or captured because of their efforts to get close to the story, and many became household names after the war, such as Winslow Homer, Alfred Waud, Edwin Forbes, and Thomas Nast

11/25/2007 10:03 pm (et) amhistoryguy: There are no "BAD" books, some are just better than others. This one is not very good.

11/25/2007 10:03 pm (et) Babs: I always say that this group could have an interesting discussion about reading the phone book.

11/25/2007 10:03 pm (et) bluelady: Good job guy...close this baby up next week!

11/25/2007 10:03 pm (et) bluelady: lol babs!!

11/25/2007 10:03 pm (et) secret squirrel: Good job

11/25/2007 10:04 pm (et) amhistoryguy: You are probably correct there Babs : )

11/25/2007 10:04 pm (et) Susansweet: Torin Finney and Jill Forbath of the American Civil War Society will give a presentation on the Bohemian Brigade in their period attire as special artist James Allen Davis of Harper's Weekly and war correspondent Clarence J. Lipsey of the New York Times. Combining key facts, images, and samples of period papers, they will bring the wartime experience of the Bohemian Brigade alive.

11/25/2007 10:04 pm (et) bluelady: Sorry I was Eagles are actually holding their own against the Patriots!

11/25/2007 10:05 pm (et) Susansweet: For more information, visit

11/25/2007 10:05 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Thanks everyone, for sticking it out with me. Had visions of being the only one here tonight.