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January 2012 Speaker Highlights

 A TROUBLED PARTNERSHIP

 

I am in clear view of Fort Sumter – the start of it all.  There is room for you, my reader, to join me on this bench in Battery Park. What if Ed Bearss also sat with us???  Would he implore us to chew slowly this great Southern City named Charles town?  Should we also soak in the history? The smells of a town sometimes called “the city of hooves and sneakers.”  With his pointed punctuation, Ed would tone down any connection of nearby McClellanville to that “troubled Partnership” between “Father” Abraham Lincoln and George Brinton McClellan.

 

Ed would tell of many comparisons and contrasts feeding this most “uncomfortable relationship.”  McClellan was successfully organizing, expanding and serving The Illinois Central Railroad as its President.  In this position he dealt with many corporate lawyers.  Lincoln, a very successful corporate lawyer, was serving in the Blackhawk Wars.  He entered as a Captain and finished as a private.  He kills only mosquitoes.

 

Lincoln leaves the military and follows a path to the Presidency.  McClellan joins the military and organizes huge numbers of Ohio Volunteers for “Father” Abraham.  His stock goes up like a sky rocket. He is a master of organization and over trains an Army that grows to love him.  He is so ambitious, so disciplined, so focused that he crosses that red line in government never to be forgotten.  The President IS ALWAYS Commander-in-Chief! He emulates P. G. T. Beauregard, a noted expert at psychological warfare. McClellan has “GRANDILOQUENTLY” annihilated three great armies at First Manassas completely unaware there will be a Second Manassas.  

 

Ed can’t believe the arrogance of this man.  Lincoln tries to go for the good in McClellan saying: “I will hold his hat if he gives us a victory.” On one occasion, Lincoln visits the McClellan Home in an attempt to avoid another lateral arabesque (moving side to side without doing anything).  McClellan makes him wait then rebukes him by simply “going to bed.” Even after the Cabinet votes seven to nothing, Lincoln refuses to fire him recognizing that he molded the Army into a “band of brothers” who love him. His wife, Ellen Mary Marcy McClellan also loves him – or at least his successes.  She rebukes his proposal of marriage while he is a young soldier but says “yes” to the President of the Railroad!

 

Ed wants you to reread McClellan’s many letters to Ellen Mary Marcy as a window to the inner thoughts and beliefs of that man who is first to call Washington a “Sink of Iniquity.” We watch McClellan slowly, very slowly,  skid to a stop as the “Rise of Giants” happens.  Lincoln says of U.S. (unconditional surrender) Grant, “He fights.” If it helps, he offers to provide Grant’s brand of whiskey to all around him who continue that fight.

 

Ed, we, your band of Civil War Brothers and Sisters admire you far beyond my simple words.  Our numbers show our deep respect for you and your knowledge.  You are a Civil War Giant.  Not only are you a National Treasure but also, by your commitment, a genuine friend of History.  May you live long, continue to “speak loudly”, and hold us accountable to know our history or be doomed to relive it. 

We love you, Ed, as we know you love history and us.  

December 2011 Speaker Highlights

E. PORTER ALEXANDER
 

What do the “Big Mouse” and E. Porter Alexander have in common? They both adapt well to Walt  Disney’s “Storyboard Style” (Google it) of organization if allowed to “grow” in the hands of master  storytellers. “Col. Black Jack“ Travis is superb at this art form. He arranges E. Porter Alexander’s life  with a punctilious attention to detail.
 
 Readers, will you agree with me that you lost mountains of carefully researched information if not in  attendance? “Ya just had to be there.” Think! Where were YOU at age 21? E. Porter Alexander was  graduating third in his class from WestPoint. By age 25 or so, his experiences put him in charge of 65  guns at Gettysburg. Jack Travis lays some facts about Southern gunpowder and a could, would, or should situation that might have changed that day in history for all of us. The “Pickle man”, Major General Richardson, soured Alexander’s day.
 
 We asked, as they unfolded, where did you find some of those great pictures, Jack? Not only some of  those pictures but also some “first” accomplishments of Alexander were shared. Superb at espionage,  E. Porter worked clandestinely with that spy, Rose Greenhow, to tunnel information toward General  Beauregard. A real snoop, E. Porter Alexander, became known as “That cuss with the Spy Glass.” With  said spy glass in hand, he became the first to send signals from a balloon. He and the balloon took a bath in the James River. We think he must have kept the spy glass dry. That spy glass also turned the battle of First Manassas. His famous statement, signaled to Beauregard, said: “Look to your left, you are being turned!!!!” Certain defeat was turned to victory of a sort.
 
 True to his beloved Southern roots, he refused countless pleadings to stay in the Union. Had he  acquiesced, Jack Travis would not have had such a colorful (he owned 100 slaves) heartwarming,  punctilious and downright enjoyable story to put on the board for us. Jack, we can’t wait to see which  Civil War personage becomes the mouse or the cheese in your next book. “Right on!”