Refugee Roulette

Today’s NY Times presents in brief the findings of Refugee Roulette, an article forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review that I co-authored with Philip Schrag and Andrew Schoenholtz (full study available here). Our empirical study found disturbing disparities in decision-making in all four levels of the asylum process in the United States. Not only were there dramatic differences in grant rates to asylum seekers from the same country between offices and courts in different parts of the country, but we found vast disparities in grant rates within offices and courts. In other words, judges sitting on the same court during the same time frame granted asylum cases from the same country at wildly varying rates -- for example, taking only Albanian asylum claims in the New York Immigration Court, one judge granted 5% of these cases, while another granted 96%. There were similar disparities in grant rates between and within asylum offices, and great variability in the federal courts of appeals, with the 7th Circuit remanding 36% of the asylum decisions before it and the 4th Circuit remanding less than 2% of its asylum cases in the time period studied. It appears from our study that the outcome of asylum cases may depend to a great extent on the personality, background, and prior experience of the adjudicator, rather than on the merits of the claim. To test this hunch, we correlated immigration judges' biographical information with grant rates. Perhaps the most interesting finding was that the gender of the judge appeared to be an important factor, with male judges granting asylum at a rate of 37.3% and female judges at 53.8%, a 44% higher rate. While we present various theories of gender and judging in our paper, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on why this might be the case!

On May 31, ...

... 1933, Madeleine Bordallo, a Democrat, who serves as Guam’s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, was born in Graceville, Minnesota.
... 1969, "[s]ometime between eight at night and three the next morning," newlyweds Yoko Ono and John Lennon, "along side a roomful of people including Timothy Leary, Toronto Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, musician Petula Clark, and members of the Canadian Radha Krishna Temple," recorded "Give Peace a Chance," an instant favorite of anti-Vietnam War protesters. The session (right) brought to an end their 8-day bed-in at Montréal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel, footage of which is available here.
... 1973, in action that bears special relevance in light of current congressional debate on constraining U.S. President George W. Bush's conduct of the Iraq War, by amendment to a defense appropriations bill, the Senate defied President Richard M. Nixon and voted to stop funding U.S. bombing of Cambodia, which had begun secretly 3 years earlier. The vote followed similar House of Representatives action earlier in the month. Nixon acceded to pressure and stopped the bombing 3 months later.

CWL --- Writing History: Answers to the Name of 'Soldier'

"The Blue and Gray in Black and White: Assessing the Scholarship on Civil War Soldiers," Aaron Sheehan-Dean in The View From The Ground: Experiences of Civil War Soldiers, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, ed., University of Kentucky Press, pp. 9-30.

Accounts written by soldiers during the war are highly prized by researchers. Postwar memoirs and article length reminiscences on occassion substitute interpretations for how it actually was in the face of battle. Answers to questions, running the gamut from emancipation and race to family and masculinity, are being readily mined today from 1860-1865 primary sources. Sheehan-Dean traces this trend to the work of Bell Irvin Wiley during the 1940s and 1950s. The author also calls attention to Albert Burton, on CSA conscription, and Ella Lonn, on army desertions, as being forerunners of Wiley in his perusal of frontline soldiers primary sources.

The movement to rejuvenate soldier studies by using the primary sources of 1860-1865 was encouraged by a 1970s study of European soldiers, The Face of Battle by John Keegan. The emergence of this historiographic movement in the 1980s is due to the growth in the sophisication of social history, the immediacy of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement during the 1970s.

Sheehan-Dean surveys the work of Reid Mitchell, Gerald Linderman, Mark Grimsley, Earl Hess, Chandra Manning, Joseph Glatthaar, James McPherson, Drew Gilpin Faust and several others. In these authors' works the attitudes of families, communities, and soldiers are being explored in a manner unlike any previous effort during the 145 years of writing about the American Civil War. In particular these studies of Southern and Northern counties and the soldiers they provided are setting forth new understandings of the war. In this field the work of Peter Carmichael, Martin Crawford, and Ward Hubb are revealing.

Families set in the context of communities, as illustrated by the work of James Marten and others, provide a picture of men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers that is not like the Victorian paintings that provide illustrations for book jackets. The bibliographic notes to Sheehan-Dean's chapter provide a wealth of book and article titles that any reader having an interest in soldiers should examine.

Help Note: This chapter can be obtained by using your local library's inter-library loan services or by contacting me.

Classic: From the Iron Brigade to the USCT

As If It Were Glory: Robert Beecham's Civil War Fom the Iron Brigade to the Black Regiments, Robert Beacham (author), Michael Stevens, (ed.)Rowan and Littlefield, 256 pp., index.
This classic (left) is coming out in paperback (right) this autumn. Glatthaar, African American soldier specialist, Herdegen and Nolan, Iron Brigade specialists, and McPherson, soldiers' motivation specialist, have heavily praised this work and rightfully so.

"This bold and refreshing memoir tears away at the growing shroud of myths during the postwar era of reconciliation. . . . For Beecham, like Abraham Lincoln before him, African-Americans made as good soldiers as any, and in Beecham's eyes, sometimes better."
Joseph T. Glatthaar, author of Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers

"Robert Beecham's outstanding memoir is marked by insight and humor. He never forgot that he was marching to history's drum whether with the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg or on the drill field with his black regiment. This is a front-rank look at the American Civil War." Lance J. Herdegen, author of The Men Stood Like Iron: How the Iron Brigade Won Its Name

"An exceptional memoir by an unusually idealistic and sophisticated Iron Brigade soldier who fought from Bull Run to Gettysburg and who finished the war as an officer in a Black regiment. Beecham understood the war in terms of freedom and rejected the racist and counterfactual postwar myth of the Lost Cause. Highly recommended." Alan T. Nolan, author of The Iron Brigade: A Military History

"Beecham pulls no punches in this lively memoir of his service as a soldier in the famed Iron Brigade and as an officer of African-American troops. Unlike most Civil War memoirs, this one does not romanticize the war nor does it make any concessions to the Confederacy, which Beecham in 1902 considered to have been as wrong and baneful as he had four decades earlier when he gave four years of his life fighting for Union and freedom." James M. McPherson, author of The Battle Cry of Freedom

In this powerful and moving memoir, Robert Beecham recounts his Civil War experiences, both as an enlisted man in the fabled Iron Brigade and as an officer commanding a newly raised African American unit. Serving from May 1861 through the end of the war, Beecham saw action with the 2nd Wisconsin at Chancellorsville and at Gettysburg, where he was taken prisoner by the Confederates. After being exchanged, he was promoted to first lieutenant in a black regiment. Leading the men of the 23rd USCT in fierce fighting at the Battle of the Crater, Beecham was wounded, again captured, and after eight months in a Confederate prison, escaped. In addition to telling his exciting account, Beecham describes the daily life of the Civil War solider. His stories range from lively accounts of foraging expeditions to describing conditions in military hospitals. In his narrative, Beecham celebrates the ingenuity of the enlisted man at the expense of officers who are often arrogant or incompetent. He also chides the altered recollections of fellow veterans who remember only triumphs and forgot defeats. In one of the most powerful parts of his memoir, Beecham pays tribute to the valor of the African Americans who fought under his command and insists that they were "the bravest and best soldiers that ever lived." "As If It Were Glory" is an unforgettable account of the Civil War, unclouded by sentimentality and insistent that the nation remain true to the cause for which it fought.
(text supplied by the publisher)

CWL --- To Torch or Not to Torch? Limited War as Practiced by William Sherman

War and Ruin: William T. Sherman and the Savannah Campaign. American Crisis Series. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 2003. 152 pp. Maps, notes, bibliographical essay, index. $17.95 (paper)

Reviewed by: Kathy L. Jones, Department of History, University of South Carolina. Published by: H-CivWar (January, 2007)

Sherman's War of Words

The famous proverb "actions speak louder than words" often rings true. Yet, sometimes words have more impact than actual deeds in historical memory. This is the case that Anne J. Bailey explores in her book, War and Ruin: William T. Sherman and the Savannah Campaign. Since the end of the Civil War, many southerners have depicted William T. Sherman as an evil warmonger. He was, and still is in some circles, blamed for the destruction of countless southern towns and the deaths of innumerable southern civilians. In short, Sherman has become one of the great villains in the epic story of the Lost Cause.

Was Sherman really so evil? Did he introduce the South to the horrors of total war? What effect did his actions really have on the outcome of the war? Bailey addresses these questions and makes the argument that Sherman's words were far more effective than any of his actions. He used the language of total war to strike fear in the minds of Georgians, yet did not fully act on those threats.

Bailey's main argument throughout the book is that Sherman's "war of words was far more devastating to the Southern nation than the actual events along his route" (p. xiv). The book begins with a tour of Savannah and southern Georgia during the early years of the Civil War. Bailey argues that the residents of Savannah were so far separated from the violence and destruction of the front lines, that they believed they were "immune from invasion" (p. 9). As Sherman got closer to the city and his threats filtered into the ears of Savannah residents, the result was extreme psychological fear.

In the course of the book, Bailey visits several of the sites that made Sherman infamous in the South. Sherman has been vilified for his occupation of Atlanta ever since he and his troops marched out of the city in November 1864. During and after the war, southerners accused Sherman of "turning out helpless women and children" (p. 25) when he expelled the residents from the city. Rather than doing this to punish the citizens of the city, Bailey explains, Sherman needed to prepare for his march and had neither the time nor resources to care for these refugees. He knew that he had to be prepared to leave the city quickly, which could not be accomplished with hundreds to thousands of refugees draining away necessary resources.
According to Bailey, when Sherman began his march his "goal was to break the South's will to fight, not to devastate the land and murder the people" (p. 31). To demonstrate this, Bailey points out that Sherman set rules limiting what specific property could be confiscated or destroyed. Only in cases where towns actively harbored Confederates or engaged in actions to hinder the progress of the Union forces was property destroyed or taken. Likewise, the Union forces were to concentrate on destroying only factories, mills, depots, warehouses, and public buildings. For the most part, Sherman kept his men from destroying private residences.
Of course, Bailey also points out that Sherman and the officers under his command could not watch every one of their men. Vandalism, murder, rape, and pillaging did occur when officers were not watching. Technically, however, Sherman and his officers never sanctioned these actions, and in some cases even prosecuted and punished the offenders (p. 79).

By the time Sherman was marching through the Georgia piedmont, news about the destruction of Atlanta had spread throughout the state. Bailey argues that this news had a profound psychological effect on the residents of the state--even if the written and verbal accounts did not exactly match up with actual deeds. For example, one of the towns Sherman was notorious for destroying, Griswoldville, was devastated only because it was composed mostly of factories involved in war production. The house belonging to the town's founder, Samuel Griswold, was not destroyed and the town itself disappeared only after its founder died in 1867. The state capital during the war, Milledgeville, was pillaged not by Sherman's men but by civilians who looted its houses after the troops left. Likewise, the residential section of the town of Sandersville was spared from destruction even though Confederate vigilantes had previously killed several Union soldiers nearby.

The fact that destruction did occur in the wake of Sherman's army cannot be denied. But Bailey is careful to point out that Sherman was infrequently responsible for this destruction. For example, the town of Louisville experienced a fire that spread through the residential area of the town. The fire, however, started before Sherman's troops even arrived in the town. Incidences like this actually played well into Sherman's hands, according to Bailey. The rumors of these events spread throughout Georgia and the blame was laid squarely at Sherman's feet. Georgians in Sherman's path believed that only destruction lay ahead for them.

Bailey does not paint a blameless portrait of Sherman. For pragmatic reasons, Sherman knowingly bypassed Andersonville prison instead of liberating it. In addition, he was less than kind to the newly freed slaves that followed his troops through Georgia. Sherman's contraband policy was to only allow those that could work to stay with the troops, as long as there were enough supplies and food to support their numbers. In one incident, Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis of the Union Army prevented a group of freed slaves from crossing a creek near Savannah on a pontoon bridge with his troops. Several of these freed slaves drowned while trying to swim across the creek, fearing that they would be left behind to be re-enslaved or killed by a group of nearby Confederates. Sherman not only condoned Davis's actions, but also endorsed them. In both of these cases, Bailey argues that Sherman made decisions based on military necessity. He could not take care of a large group of weak and starving prisoners, nor could he feed and support refugees who chose to follow the army. His goal was to complete the march to Savannah, not to care for the people along the way.

When Sherman and his troops finally reached Savannah, they did not harm the city at all. None of the buildings were burned down or destroyed. In fact, Savannah was filled with celebrations in the days following Sherman's arrival. Confederate supporters in the city were allowed to remain in the city peacefully or leave without being harmed. Again, Sherman demonstrated with his actions that he did not wish to physically harm the people of Georgia. His goal was mainly to strike fear in their minds and in the minds of their loved ones far away fighting for the Confederacy. As Sherman himself stated to a southern friend who was living in New York, "you do me but justice in thinking that I am not the scourge and monster that the Southern Press represents me, but that I will take infinitely more delight in curing the wounds made by war, than in inflicting them" (p. 126).

War and Ruin is a concise and well-written summary of Sherman's journey through Georgia in 1864. The advantage of this slim volume is that it is quick and almost effortless to read, owing mainly to Bailey's enjoyable style of writing. She provides just enough description to paint a picture of both Sherman and Georgia that is engaging and not tedious. The shortcoming of the book is that it does not cover any new territory. Many historians have written about this topic in much more thorough detail. This weakness is also a strength, however, in that lay readers and scholars of the Civil War will find this book both understandable and interesting. In addition, the book would be extremely useful for introductory and upper-level courses on the Civil War.
What is different about War and Ruin is Bailey's interesting interpretation of the subject matter. Instead of just summarizing Sherman's March and listing the events that took place along the way, Bailey tells the story through the minds of Georgia's civilians. The parts of the book where she discusses the effects of Sherman's words and the rumors of his deeds on the southern people are the most engaging aspects of the book. In fact, the reader is left desiring more of this kind of information.

Bailey effectively demonstrates that Sherman was not responsible for all of the horrendous things he has been accused of. In doing so, she clearly places this work historiographically in a group of recent studies examining whether or not Sherman introduced "total war" to the South. Like Mark Neely, Mark Grimsley, and Lee Kennett, Bailey does not see the Civil War as a "total war."[1] Sherman's aim was to destroy property, not to take civilian lives. Every action he took had a pragmatic reason behind it. None of these reasons included revenge against the people of Georgia. Sherman realized that in order to become one nation again, these things could not occur. As Bailey concludes, "he had waged war against Southern civilians, but within limits, for true total war would have resulted in an irreparable schism" (p. 138).

[1]. Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Lee Kennett, Marching through Georgia: The Story of Soldiers and Civilians during Sherman's Campaign (New York: HarperCollins, 1995); and Mark E. Neely Jr., "Was the Civil War a Total War?" Civil War History 37 (1991): 5-28.

Citation: Kathy L. Jones. "Review of Anne J. Bailey, War and Ruin: William T. Sherman and the Savannah Campaign," H-CivWar, H-Net Reviews, January, 2007. URL:

The Olympics card

The approach of the 2008 Beijing Olympics is giving China increased international attention -- some of which Chinese leaders no doubt would be happy to do without.
With Mia Farrow in the lead, some celebrities advocate boycotting what they've begun to call the "Genocide Olympics" unless China urges Sudan, its trading partner, to stop the violence in Darfur and let U.N. peacekeepers in. When Steven Spielberg, artistic director for the '08 games, expressed concern, China appointed a special envoy to the region.
Members of Congress have joined in, proposing resolutions to pressure China on Darfur. "'With the Olympics coming, China is now in the international spotlight," U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) noted, then declared that it's time for "'China, finally, to join the world community and acknowledge that genocide is taking place.'"
China's new Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, lashed back: "'There is a handful of people who are trying to politicize the Olympic Games. This is against the spirit of the Games. It also runs counter to the aspirations of all the people in the world, and so their aims will never be achieved.'"
Yang thus endeavored to disregard decades of politicization of the Olympics. The 1992 Barcelona games were the 1st in modern history that no country boycotted for some political reason. Among the political disputes that has played out in Olympic arenas -- and continues to do so -- is China's chronic tiff with Taiwan.
Still, Yang's response to Darfur-related pressure counsels care in playing the Olympics card. Is a boycott in fact possible, and if not, is threatening it a good idea? The complexity of China's relationship to Sudan and Darfur -- and to the rest of the world -- was evident yesterday: U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, on "The News Hour" to promote the U.S. increase in sanctions against Sudan, took pains to state that although Chinese leaders do not support sanctions, "they appreciate the importance of this situation and they, along with us, have worked hard to impress upon the government of Sudan the importance of Sudan accommodating the wishes and demands of the international community in regard to Darfur."
In any event, is Darfur the best reason to play the card? Surely it is not the only one. Last month Amnesty International asked the International Olympic Committee to pressure China on account of repression within China itself -- a concern that's particularly noteworthy today, just 5 days short of the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen killings. Of additional concern ought to be China's newfound penchant for giving foreign aid with no human rights strings attached. To the extent that it displaces the tradition of conditional aid, China's new policy of unfettered assistance promises to undermine a key means by which donor states from regions like North America and the European Union have prodded beneficiary states to treat their children -- and their women and men -- well.

Write On! Papers sought on military @ home

(Write On! is an occasional item on notable calls for papers.) The National Security Law section of the Association of American Law Schools is seeking "essays and article-length papers" discussing "the general theme of the military's domestic role." Section chair Robert M. Chesney notes within that topic that are "a range of issues"; examples include detention, emergency response, surveillance, posse comitatus, homeland defense, and civilian-military relations. The winner of the call will present at a panel at the AALS' annual meeting next January in New York and will be published in the National Security Law Report and in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy. Deadline is August 15; details are here.

On May 30, ...

... 1431, Jeanne d'Arc (right), the teenaged warrior who 2 years earlier had led French troops to victory over the English at the battle of Orléans, was burned at the stake in Rouen. A pro-English ecclesiastical court, in a trial in which "[m]uch was made of her insistence on wearing men's clothing," had convicted her of witchcraft and heresy following a 14-month interrogation. Nearly a half-century later the Roman Catholic Church made the young woman, also known as Joan of Arc, a saint.
... 1847, Alice Stopford Green, an historian and supporter of Irish independence who would be elected 3 times to Ireland's Seanad, or Senate, was born Alice Sophia Amelia Stopford in Kells, County Meath, Ireland.

CWL --- Walking Gettysburg's Battlefield: The Lutheran Seminary Hospital

The Hospital on Seminary Ridge at the Battle of Gettysburg, Michael A. Dreese, McFarland Publishing, Illustrations, maps, notes, appendices, bibliography, index, 200 pp, 2002, hardcover $45.00, 2005 paperback $29.95.

“How goes it?” “Well, John. There’s the devil to pay!” The red brick, 19th century building was made popular by the by the film Gettysburg; its cupola was made iconic by Union generals Buford and Reynolds. The Lutheran Seminary building, now named Schmucker Hall, was one of the centers of learning and religion in the Gettysburg of 1863. Luther probably would not have winced at Buford’s declaration; there is much in Luther’s theology that holds that the Devil indeed would ask to be paid war’s wages.

In this book, Michael Dreese pays homage to the building, the lives, and this particular (using Joshua Chamberlain’s words) ‘vision place of souls.’ A stop on the National Park Service’s real and virtual tours, this four story structure from basement to the attic witnessed the agony or death of slightly less than 1,000 souls.

Dreese’s story begins on March 2, 1826 in Hagerstown, Maryland. Carlisle, Gettysburg and Hagerstown made the short list of locations chosen by the ten founding members of the Theological Seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In the same spirit that possesses local government today, Adams county residents raised $7,000 in subscriptions for a seminary if the location would be Gettysburg; as an added inducement, the free use of the Adams County Academy building until the seminary structure could be completed was offered. Using short, focused chapters, the author sketches community, church and student leadership and their efforts to found, build and maintain a theological seminary.

Samuel Schmucker, 27 years old founder and 64 year old seminary professor and president during battle, is present on almost 20% of the pages. Charles Krauth, selected for the second professorship in 1850, and his family is similarly covered. All three seminary buildings: Schmucker’s house, Krauth’s house, and the classroom and dormitory are literally soaked in blood during the battle and it’s aftermath. Student members of the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia have left memoirs that Dreese presents. The McFarland family which lived in the basement of the ‘Old Dorm’ and provided housing, grounds and building maintenance services passed through the battle. As they fled out the front door of the building the Slentz family, tenants of the McPherson farm located to the immediate west of the seminary, ran through the back door and stayed in the Slentz’s apartment.

In detail, the week before and the first day of the battle is covered. Anecdotes of civilians and soldiers reveal seminary students passing through Rebel lines to preach sermons. Henry Jacobs, a student of Pennsylvania (now Gettysburg) College recalls an 1861 dream that is prescient of July 1, 1863. Lt. Jerome, of the Signal Corps and attached to Buford’s cavalry division, recollects his service in the seminary building’s cupola. The building begins to fill with Federal cavalry wounded then infantry wounded. After 6 pm the Rebels pass through the buildings and steal all the Federal First Corps medical implements and medicines, leaving about 700 wounded and their doctors to their agonies and devices.

During the remainder of the book, Dreese presents stories of desperate doctors treating both Federal and Confederate wounded. As limbs pile up outside of the three buildings, graves are dug in the gardens and yards of the seminary. For the months of July, August and September, the seminary is a war hospital; the U.S. Sanitary Committee and the Christian Commission, a forerunners of the Red Cross, provided food, supplies and staff to care for residents. It is not until October that seminary classes resume.

Dreese’s book is an excellent work. Depending largely on personal recollections found in newspapers of the era, personal diaries, letters and reported conversations, Dreese offers a civilian story well balanced with a military story. Readers of Gettysburg Magazine will find familiar, detailed coverage of battle events and, possibly, unfamiliar coverage of civilian events. Priced somewhat high at $30 for a paperback, it is worth every cent. Those smitten by the events at the Seminary may feel compelled to aid the Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation (SRHPR).

Currently, the Old Dorm is occupied by the Adams County Historical Society , which is in its first year of fundraising for a new building to be located east of Barlow’s Knoll. Within five years, it is expected, the Society will be moving and the Preservation Foundation will begin work on the restoration of the building. At this time three of the four floors are open for viewing. The attic is closed uto visitors unless they are on an SRHPF tour. Contributors to the foundation may enter the cupola during SRHPF open houses. The view is one of a kind.

Trying the talking cure

A tip of the diplomat's silk hat to any and all responsible for getting the United States and Iran to sit down and talk yesterday. It was the 1st formal session between the 2 since 1979, the year that the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led an Islamic revolution marked by the ouster of Iran's Shah, invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and seizure of 52 Americans who were held hostage for more than a year. Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, reported that he met with Hassan Kazemi Qomi, his Iranian counterpart, for about 4 hours in Baghdad, in a "businesslike" discussion of the security situation in Iraq. "We're taking this step by step," Crocker told reporters, adding that "the point of these discussions is not about U.S.-Iranian relations. It's about what can make things better in Iraq."
One hesitates to overstate the significance of this small rapprochement. Its scope was circumscribed, and there are many points of contention between the countries, among them Iran's nuclear program and its detention of scholar Halef Esfandiari and 2 other Iranian-Americans on charges of espionage. Still, yesterday's supplanting of what at times has seemed media grandstanding with serious, civil, face-to-face dialogue can only be a good thing.

...and counting...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) Amid news that 1 in 8 Iraqi children dies before turning 5 years old, that escalation of violence against Iraqi civilians continues, that the month nearing its end has been 1 of the most deadly for U.S. servicemembers in Iraq, and that the Bush Administration, having forced war-funding legislation that omitted an earlier requirement for troop withdrawal, now is contemplating end-of-summer withdrawal of troops from Iraq, here is the Memorial Day count:
Iraq Body Count reports that as of Monday between 64,405 and 70,552 Iraqis, women, children, and men, had died in the conflict -- an increase of 795 to 894 deaths in 2 weeks. American servicemember fatalities: 3,455 persons. Total coalition fatalities: 3,731 persons. (That's 56 servicemember deaths in 2 weeks, all but 2 of them Americans.) The stated number of U.S. wounded remained, implausibly, where it has been for well over a month, at 24,314 persons. Military casualties in the conflict in Afghanistan stand at 390 Americans and 194 other coalition servicemembers, an increase of 1 and 8, respectively, in the last 2 weeks.

On May 29, ...

... 1913, the début performance of "The Rite of Spring" ballet set off a near-riot in Paris. Audience members were shocked by "outrageous costumes," the "unusual choreography" of Vaslav Nijinsky, and the "musical innovations" of composer Igor Stravinsky. For all these reasons, this work remains an international favorite.
... 2007 (today), is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, by 2002 declaration of the U.N. General Assembly. Founded in 1948, the "Blue Helmets," as they are known, were awarded the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize for contributing, "under extremely difficult conditions, contributed to reducing tensions where an armistice has been negotiated but a peace treaty has yet to be established," and so "represent[ing] the manifest will of the community of nations to achieve peace through negotiations ...."

In Algeria, h-i-j-a-b spells success

According to this Herald Tribune report, dressing for success means wearing the hijab in Algeria, where women are making economic and political gains unknown elsewhere in the Arab world. The raw numbers indeed impress: “Women make up 70 percent of Algeria's lawyers and 60 percent of its judges. Women dominate medicine. Increasingly, women contribute more to household income than men. Sixty percent of university students are women, university researchers say.” Women are even “starting to drive buses and taxicabs, pump gas and wait on tables.” Nonetheless, these women represent only 20% of the work force (though that “is more than twice their share a generation ago”). And even though men still control the political power, as women move into state positions some see a trend that may result in their control of public administration. While these changes seem surprising at first glance, a closer look shows that they were not entirely unforeseeable: “University studies are no longer viewed as a credible route toward a career or economic well-being, so men may well opt out and try to find work or to simply leave the country,” thus leaving the path open to women. Significantly then, this “quiet revolution”, as the IHT bills it, does not seem to have required any noisy agitation or provocation of Islamist ire: “women are more religious than in previous generations, and also more modern.” That is, they wear the hijab, but also work, “often alongside men, once considered taboo. Sociologists and many working women say that by adopting religion and wearing the Islamic head covering called the hijab, women here have in effect freed themselves from moral judgments and restrictions imposed by men.” In a climate of decreased faith in government, expressed not only at the polls but in protests, riots and even bombings, some sociologists consider that “women may have emerged as Algeria's most potent force for social change, with their presence in the bureaucracy and on the street having a potentially moderating and modernizing influence on society.” As a professor of sociology at the University of Algiers put it: "Women, and the women's movement, could be leading us to modernity."

On May 28, ...

... 2007 (today), Americans mark Memorial Day. It seems women started the event in the course of the Civil War, and it was women, the American World War I volunteer Moina Michael and a Frenchwoman, Mme Guérin, who started the tradition of wearing poppies (in Europe and Canada this is done only on November 11, Armistice Day). Today, look for the somber listing of recent war dead in Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury (this week and next -- the list exceeds a single strip), and honor your loved ones.
... 1503 Pope Alexander VI issued a bull confirming, on the occasion of the marriage of King James IV and Margaret Tudor, a Treaty of Everlasting Peace between Scotland and England. It lasted 10 years.

Grace-full missives

Sixeenth century pirate Grace O'Malley is riding a new wave of popularity.
Blog reader Eugene J. Flynn asks whether the inspiration for this IntLawGrrl namesake was the song "Grace O'Malley" by Cathie Ryan and John Doyle, featured on Ryan's "Somewhere Along the Road" album? No, haven't heard Ryan's song, but will it track it down.
As explained in an intro post, Emily Arnold McCully's children's book The Pirate Queen was the chief inspiration for choosing this "early, powerful nonstate actor." Another was a spectacular 2002 performance of "Grainne Mhaol" (a Gaelic version of Grace's name) by the spectacular Galway-based theatre troupe Macnas.
Now Grace is back on stage, this time in a Broadway musical called, of course, "The Pirate Queen," mounted by the creators of "Les Misérables" and "Miss Saigon." Barbara Sjoholm, author of a travelogue entitled The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea, writes that the production is rich in Riverdancing and invented romance -- "and how cool is it to see a woman on stage with a saber in one hand and a baby in the other?"
Thanks to my colleague Jack Ayer, the brains behind Underbelly blog, for the head's up on the new play. Indeed, Jack points to further proof of Grace's 21st C. revival: her own MySpace page.

On May 27, ...

... 1937 (70 years ago today), approximately 200,000 people walked across the brand-new Golden Gate Bridge. The 7-mile-suspension bridge, which is painted the signature color of "International orange" and connects California's San Francisco and Marin counties, was opened to motor vehicles for the 1st time the following day.
... 1615, Marguerite de Valois, whose stormy life as the French Queen Margot has been the stuff of fiction and film, died in Paris at the age of 62.

Taking a page from history

"'He read an old version' of the statement at the first meeting. ... 'That first one never happened.'"
With these words, a U.N. spokesman erased from the official record -- and so from history's memory -- "a hard-hitting statement denouncing aerial bombardment in the troubled Darfur region in a clear critique of the Sudanese government," read at a session yesterday of the U.N. Security Council by Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Why the disappearing act?
Turns out that Security Council members -- the P-5 of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus the T-10 of Belgium, Congo, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Slovakia, and South Africa -- had not agreed to hit Sudan so hard. The session thus was reconvened, and Khalilzad "read out a more anodyne statement that just urged all parties in Darfur, rebels included, to end violence." With that, Reuters reports, "U.N. officials agreed that in effect the earlier session had been superseded."
'Nuff said.

On May 26, ...

... 1933, Australia claimed 42% of Antarctica 's territory, an area 80% as large as Australia itself. It is 1 of 7 states claiming rights in Antarctica. Today activities on the world's southernmost continent are governed pursuant to the Antarctic Treaty of 1961, which begins:
Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be prohibited, inter alia, any measure of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvres, as well as the testing of any type of weapon.
... 1994, the United States and Vietnam established diplomatic relations, nearly 2 decades after U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War had come to an end.

The "sorry" issue

Sunday will mark the 40th anniversary of an Australian referendum allowing the indigenous aboriginal population to become citizens of their native land. Indigenous Australians still await an official apology from the Australian federal government for its decades-long practice of forcible removal of mixed-race aboriginal children from their families in order to "assimilate" these children, known as the Stolen Generations, into white Australian society, with the goal of eventually "absorbing" the indigenous population. In the words of the Family Court of Australia:

[T]he dispossession of Aboriginals from their land '[w]as a conflagration of oppression and conflict which was, over the (19th) Century, to spread across the continent to dispossess, degrade and devastate the Aboriginal peoples and leave a national legacy of unutterable shame'[; this] represented 'the darkest aspect of the history of this nation'. There can, in our view, be little doubt that on a more directly personal level the policy of Colonial, and later State, administrations in Australia to systematically remove Aboriginal children from their parents and place them in institutions or other care and the consequences of that can be described in equally strong terms.
A report issued 10 years ago by Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission concludes that the Australian government's systemic policy of forced removal of Indigenous children constituted a crime against humanity, and potentially genocide, and calls for an official apology, compensation, and guarantees against repetition. Yet Prime Minister John Howard has repeatedly refused to apologize on behalf of the federal government, and most recently has promoted the forcible teaching of English to Indigenous Australians:
I have always held the view that the best way to help the Indigenous people of this nation is to give them the greatest possible access to the bounty and good fortune of this nation and that cannot happen unless they are absorbed into our mainstream.
The political opposition disagrees, noting:
We teach our children to say `Sorry' because it does not seem to come naturally to children. It is an adult undertaking to say `Sorry.' If the federal government, through our Prime Minister, can say `Sorry' on behalf of the Australian people, it will be a sign of our maturity. Saying `Sorry' is the place to begin the healing process, for from the expression of sorrow comes the possibility of forgiveness and, from forgiveness, reconciliation.
'Nuff said.

Legal Wonder Nominee: Hammurabi's Code

The latest entry in our "Name the World's 7 Legal Wonders" contest is the Code of Hammurabi, nominated by Victoria E. Jozef, just graduated from Pepperdine School of Law (Heartfelt thanks & congratulations!)
Promulgated around 1780 BCE (that is, "Before the Common Era," now the preferred rendering of what U.S. schoolchildren used to learn as "B.C." for "Before Christ"), the Code is said to be the most lasting contribution of Hammurabi, 6th king of the 1st Babylonia dynasty that ruled Mesopotamia, now Iraq. The Code was "the earliest-known example of a ruler proclaiming publicly to his people an entire body of laws, arranged in orderly groups, so that all men might read and know what was required of them," according to a 1915 treatise. It continued:

The code was carved upon a black stone monument, eight feet high, and clearly intended to be read in public view. This noted stone was found in the year 1901, not in Babylon, but in a city of the Persian mountains, to which some later conqueror must have carried it in triumph. It begins and ends with addresses to the gods. Even a law code was in those days regarded as a subject for prayer, though the prayers here are chiefly cursings of whoever shall neglect or destroy the law.
The code then regulates in clear and definite strokes the organization of society. The judge who blunders in a law case is to be expelled from his judgeship forever, and heavily fined. The witness who testifies falsely is to be slain. Indeed, all the heavier crimes are made punishable with death.
Even if a man builds a house badly, and it falls and kills the owner, the builder is to be slain. If the owner's son was killed, then the builder's son is slain. We can see where the Hebrews learned their law of "an eye for an eye." These grim retaliatory punishments take no note of excuses or explanations, but only of the fact -- with one striking exception. An accused person was allowed to cast himself into "the river," the Euphrates. Apparently the art of swimming was unknown; for if the current bore him to the shore alive he was declared innocent, if he drowned he was guilty. So we learn that faith in the justice of the ruling gods was already firmly, though somewhat childishly, established in the minds of men.
Yet even with this earliest set of laws, as with most things Babylonian, ... Hammurabi's code was not really the earliest. The preceding sets of laws have disappeared, but we have found several traces of them, and Hammurabi's own code clearly implies their existence. He is but reorganizing a legal system long established.
The Code is our 5th nominee, following (1) the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, (2) the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, (3) the Law Merchant, and (4) the Edicts of Aśoka. We look forward to hearing your nominee. Tell us, with a brief description of your reasons, by posting a comment or by e-mailing us at

Cartographic Quiz Kid

What city, divided by a river of the same name, was the imperial capital of Vietnam?
Check your answer here.
If you got it right, you may be ready to go head to head against a genuine IntLawGirl: Caitlin Snaring, 14, of Redmond, Washington, newly crowned winner of the National Geographic Bee. Of being the Bee's 1st girl champion since before she was born, Caitlin said simply, "I don't know why more girls aren't interested in geography."
Her other passion is Greek and Minoan pottery. An IntLawGrrl, indeed.

On May 25, ...

... 1993, the U.N. Security Council adopted the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, empowered to adjudicate charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide arising out of the decade's war in the Balkans. Conflict persisted well after establishment of the ICTY; indeed, on the same day in 1995, the Bosnian Serb Army shelled the "safe area" of Tuzla, killing 71 Bosnians and injuring 150 more.
... 1963, a summit conference of 32 African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, ended with the founding of the Organization of African Unity, whose Charter established a regional body pledged to work for betterment of African states and an end to white minority rule in any African state. Nearly 20 years later, in 2002, the OAU would be superseded by the African Union, a new regional organization.
... 1960, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Dem./Farmer/Labor-Minn.) was born in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Cartographic Quiz Answered

Answer to Cartographic Quiz above:

Hué, situated in Thua Thien province at the midpoint of Vietnam. The Hué, or Perfume, River bisects the city, which is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, among them the Hué Monuments pictured at right.

NGOs bear witness

2 days, 2 nongovernmental organizations, 2 annual reports that show how civil society can shape debate on matters of international interest:
"The politics of fear" as practiced by states and armed nonstate actors "is fuelling a downward spiral of human rights abuse in which no right is sacrosant and no person safe," Irene Kahn (left), Secretary General of the 46-year-old, London-headquartered Amnesty International, declared in announcing the release yesterday of the organization's annual report. Country-by-country, the report documents abuses from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, placing special emphasis on excesses of antiterrorism and repression of persons who use the internet as their medium for freedom of expression.
Another NGO zeroed in on its keystone concern: "Justice with a price tag is no justice at all," stated Huguette Labelle (right), chair of Transparency International, a 14-year-old group headquartered in Berlin. Her comments marked today's release of the 2007 Global Corruption Report. It traces the infiltration of bribery and political interference in all corners of the planet and at all points in the legal process -- from 1st encounters with police, to prosecutorial investigation, to adjudication itself. The report then sets forth ways to reduce corruption, among them greater transparency in selection and removal of court officials, stronger enforcement of anticorruption measures, unfettered media coverage of proceedings, and vigorous scrutiny by bar associations, private persons, and other sectors of civil society.

From India, another "Legal Wonders" nominee

Another entry for our "Name the World's 7 Legal Wonders" contest!
Of the Edicts of Aśoka, blog reader Patrick S. O'Donnell writes:

[T]he Indian emperor Aśoka (304-232 BCE) ... ruled the Mauryan Empire on the Indian subcontinent from c. 270-232 BCE. His edicts gave shape to his understanding of the Dharma of Buddhism, meaning for him ‘a moral polity of active social concern, religious tolerance, ecological awareness, the observance of common ethical precepts, and the renunciation of war [the sound of drums is now the sound of principle—dharma—not war]:’ ...

Patrick gives examples of the Edicts (a stone pillar fragment, now at the British Museum, pictured at right): orders for "banyan trees and mango groves to be planted, resthouses to be built, and wells to be dug every half-mile along the roads"; "an end to the killing and consumption of most animals in the royal kitchens"; "provision of medical facilities for men and beasts"; "generosity toward priests and ascetics, and frugality in spending"; commissioning "officers to work for the welfare and happiness of the poor and aged"; declaration of "his intention constantly to promote the welfare of all beings so as to pay off his debt to living creatures and to work for their happiness in this world and the next"; and honoring "men of all faiths."
He concludes that the Edicts of Aśoka (the emperor's pictured left) "were in stark contrast to the largely amoral maxims of power found in Kautilya’s Arthaśāstra (‘Science of Wealth,’ i.e., politics and economics), the latter’s reflections on power and conceptions of raison d’état not dissimilar to those of Machiavelli and Hobbes in Western political philosophy."
Aśoka's Edicts constitute our 4th nominee -- joining (1) the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, (2) the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and (3) the Law Merchant -- and another entry will arrive tomorrow (stay tuned).
What's your nominee? It can be a human artifact or a human being, a positive or a negative influence on the law. Tell us, with a brief description of your reasons, by posting a comment or by e-mailing us at

On May 24, ...

... 1981, the 1st International Women's Day for Disarmament was celebrated. It remains in effect today. The Women Peacemakers Program of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation will join with the United Network of Young Peacebuilders for "Girls Challenging Violence," a day of interactive theater, music, even a standup comedian, at The Hague, Netherlands.
... 1918, Canadian women secured the right to vote in federal elections.
... 1819, H.R.H. Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent was born to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and Princess Victoria Mary Louisa of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, in Kensington Palace, London. Shortly after her 18th birthday she would become Queen Victoria (right), ruling England and its empire for nearly 64 years, the longest reign in British history.

You go, 'Grrl!

Heartfelt congratulations to Elizabeth L. Hillman (left), aka IntLawGrrl Vera Brittain: Rutgers-Camden School of Law, N.J., just named her 2007 Professor of the Year! It's a well deserved honor for this scholar of military justice, American legal history, and gender and sexuality in the law, and author of the excellent 2005 book, Defending America: Military Culture and the Cold War Court-Martial. Fittingly, Beth's speech at Rutgers' graduation last week made note of the war in Iraq:
Every war challenges our understanding of the law, but this war has put law in its cross-hairs. Its rationale, its interrogations, its detentions, its re-shaping of the relative powers of our branches of government have profound consequences for our legal present and future.
Beth spoke of 1st Lt. Andrew Bacevich, Jr., killed this month in the conflict about which his father, an international relations professor, has written thoughtful critiques:
We no longer have the gifts of the young Andy Bacevich to help us recover from the errors of this war. But we do have you. You are his contemporaries – some of you will even be fellow military officers – and we need your insight and passion to move beyond this conflict.
Hers was a message for all.

Child LWOP update

A while back Nancy Ward wrote of her efforts to persuade California legislators to forbid sentencing of child offenders to life without parole. In California 227 youths are serving such sentences, 10% of the national juvenile LWOP population. Human rights law is contra: the sentences are flatly prohibited by Article 37(a) of the Covenant on the Rights of the Child, to which virtually all countries belong except the United States, and are incompatible with the juvenile corrections provisions of Articles 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States does belong.
Yesterday the legislation, SB 999, was read on the floor of the Senate, where a 2/3 majority is needed. Organizers are urging all to lobby for an "aye" vote; details here.

On May 23, ...

... 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was established, and its Parliamentary Council promulgated the Grundgesetz ("Basic Law"), which declares in Article 1: "Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority." Aspects of this Constitution were amended in 1990, when, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall the preceding year, the eastern part of the country, which had been part of the Soviet bloc since the end of World War II, reunited with its western half.
... 1960, Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced the capture of the mastermind of the deportation of 3 million Jews to concentration camps during the Nazi era, Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann had been seized in Argentina, where he was living under an assumed name. As depicted at left and reported in "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" by Hannah Arendt, Israel eventually put Eichmann on trial for crimes against the Jewish people; he was convicted and hanged. His kidnapping by Israeli agents prompted diplomatic protest from Argentina; the U.N. Security Council settled the dispute by resolution. A California-based member of Congress now is citing Eichmann to justify extraordinary renditions, the Bush Administration's post-September 11 policy of extralegal seizures of terrorism suspects.

Forthcoming: Stunning Photographs, Crisp Text

In the Footsteps of Grant and Lee: The Wilderness Through Cold Harbor,Gordon C. Rhea (Author), Chris E. Heisey (Photographer), Louisiana State University Press,hardcover, 144 pages, 24 Halftones, 61 Color Illustrations, 15 Maps, September 2007

In early May 1864, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant initiated a drive through central Virginia to crush Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. For forty days, the armies fought a grinding campaign from the Rapidan River to the James River that helped decide the course of the Civil War. Several of the war's bloodiest engagements occurred in this brief period: the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River, Totopotomoy Creek, Bethesda Church, and Cold Harbor. Pitting Grant and Lee against one another for the first time in the war, the Overland Campaign, as this series of battles and maneuvers came to be called, represents military history at its most intense. In the Footsteps of Grant and Lee, a unique blend of narrative and photographic journalism from Gordon C. Rhea, the foremost authority on the Overland Campaign, and Chris E. Heisey, a leading photographer of Civil War battlefields, provides a stunning, stirring account of this deadly game of wits and will between the Civil War's foremost military commanders.

Here Grant fought and maneuvered to flank Lee out of his heavily fortified earthworks. And here Lee demonstrated his genius as a defensive commander, countering Grant's every move. Adding to the melee were cavalry brawls among the likes of Philip H. Sheridan, George A. Custer, James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart, and Wade Hampton. Forty days of combat produced horrific casualties, some 55,000 on the Union side and 35,000 on the Confederate. By the time Grant crossed the James and began the Siege of Petersburg, marking an end to this maneuver, both armies had sustained significant losses that dramatically reduced their numbers.

Rhea provides a rich, fast-paced narrative, movingly illustrated by more than sixty powerful color images from Heisey, who captures the many moods of these hallowed battlegrounds as they appear today. Heisey made scores of visits to the areas where Grant and Lee clashed, giving special attention to lesser-known sites on byways and private property. He captures some of central Virginia's most stunning landscapes, reminding us that though battlefields conjure visions of violence, death, and sorrow, they can also be places of beauty and contemplation. Accompanying the modern pictures are more than twenty contemporary photographs taken during the campaign or shortly afterwards, some of them never before published.

At once an engaging military history and a vivid pictorial journey, In the Footsteps of Grant and Lee offers a fresh vision of some of the country's most significant historic sites.

The Authors
Gordon C. Rhea is the author of four books on the Overland Campaign: The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864; The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern, May 7-12, 1864; To the North Anna River: Grant and Lee, May 13-25, 1864; and Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee, May 26-June 3, 1864. He is currently writing the fifth and concluding volume in the series. A frequent lecturer on military history and a practicing attorney, he lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, with his wife and two sons.

Chris E. Heisey is coauthor of Gettysburg: This Hallowed Ground. He is a photojournalist for the Roman Catholic Diocese in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and lives in Mechanicsburg with his wife and son. [text supplied by publisher]

We have a "Legal Wonders" nominee!

Heartfelt thanks to reader Art Gemmell for joining our Name the World's 7 Legal Wonders contest. Art writes:

"My nomination is the Law Merchant for its contribution to the development of law, courts, equity, arbitration, and the speed with which disputes were administered.
"The Law Merchant saw the widespread use of agency principles, executory contracts, oral contracts, and a PEACEFUL transnational enforcement regime."

A worthy nominee, indeed, law merchant (also known as lex mercatoria). It joins 2 already-named candidates: (1) 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and (2) the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
What's your nominee? Tell us by posting a comment or by e-mailing us at

Sexual violence in Central African Republic

Having completed "preliminary analysis" pursuant to state referral, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (left) announced today that his office has opened an investigation of violence against civilians of the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003. It is the 1st investigation "in which allegations of sexual crimes far outnumber alleged killings"; according to Moreno, "'The information we have now suggests that the rape of civilians was committed in numbers that cannot be ignored under international law.'”
The Prosecutor sounded a cautionary note: new violence at the country's borders with Chad and Sudan may hamper investigation. In short, more than adjudicative intervention is needed to quell criminality in the region; whether more will come remains to be seen.

On May 22, ....

... 1944, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) was born in Chicago.
... 1947 (60 years ago today), U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed into law Congress' Act to provide for assistance to Greece and Turkey. The Act formed "the keystone of the Truman Doctrine to protect free peoples of the world in their right to select their own governments free of compulsion from within or without," and put into effect the United States' Cold War policy of containment; that is, of preventing expansion of the Soviet bloc. (March 1947 photo of Truman announcing Doctrine to Congress courtesy of the Truman Presidential Library.)
... 1957, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was born in Ketchikan, Alaska.
... 1969, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) was born in Salem, Oregon.

CWL --- Personal Shock and Awe: Sharpshooters, Army of Northern Virginia

Shock Troops of the Confederacy: The Sharpshooter Battalions of the Army of Northern Virginia, Fred L. Ray, CFS Press, hardcover, maps, illustrations, index, notes, 432 pages, 2006, $35.

"Thoroughly researched. " "Offers new material on the common soldier." "Worth every penny." "Wonderful to read." Ever use remarks like this about a book? If so, have you used each of them for the same book? Well, you can say each of those things about Fred Ray's Shock Troops of the Confederacy.

New: Sharpshooters, please. Not Snipers.

U. S. Sharpshooters: Berdan's Civil War Elite, Roy M. Marcot, Stackpole Books hardcover, 128 pages, 28 color photos, 127 b/w photos, 14 drawings, 4 paintings, 1 map, index, no endnotes,$30 (Summer 2007)

This detailed and beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Col. Hiram Berdan s brilliant conception: the U.S. Sharpshooters, a specialized 2-regiment unit of marksmen recruited from the farming and backwoods communities of the North. Known for their distinctive green uniforms, Sharps breech-loading rifles, and risky tactics, the Sharpshooters fought at battles such as the Peninsula, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness. The book covers their training, tactics, and weapons and is a must-have for Civil War enthusiasts and anyone interested in the history of special forces. Features paintings by acclaimed Civil War artist Don Troiani.

Roy Marcot has written several books, including Remington: America's Oldest Gunmaker, The History of Remington Firearms, and Hiram Berdan: Chief of Sharpshooters. He is a member of the American Society of Arms Collectors. Text From Publisher

Forthcoming: Classic Antietam Study

The Maryland Campaign of September 1862: Ezra A. Carman's Definitive Study of the Union and Confederate Armies at Antietam, Ezra A. Carman, Joseph Pierro, ed., Routledge Publishing, hardcover, fall 2007.

Batchelder never wrote his book on Gettysburg but Ezra Carman wrote his book on Antietam. Antietam/Sharpsburg scholars have told me they are anxious to get their hands on the Carman study of the campaign. The publisher has a release date of August 2007 and a cover, but no information on maps, illustrations, page numbers, index, endnotes, etc. The publisher will be updating me on the details and the arrival of the book. At $95 I expect that the book will be in hardcover for a long while and the paperback is in the far distant future. Write Santa.

CWL --- Too Fond of War: What Was R. E. Lee Thinking?

"We Should Grow Too Fond of It": Why We Love the Civil War, Drew Gilpin Faust, Civil War History, Volume 50, Number 4, 2004, pp. 368-383.

His exact words were not written down at the time they were uttered and to whom they were addressed never reported them. Douglas Southall Freeman, a Lee biographer, wrote the famous version of the remark, "It is well that war is so terrible--we should grow too fond of it." He may have found it in John Esten Cooke's 1871 biography of Lee or in Edward Porter Alexander's Military Memoirs of a Confederate. This path of attribution was described in Gary Gallagher's 1995 book, The Fredericksburg Campaign: Decision on the Rappahannock.

If we, like Robert E. Lee, recognize that war is "both terrible and alluring" and full of both honor and horror then we may understand why we love the American Civil War. Many readers have been motivated to look critically at the attraction of war after they have read Dispatches, Michael Herr's 'unflinching ... portrait of the horror" of the Vietnam War. This author returns from the war changed "like everyone else who has been through a war: changed, englared and ...incomplete...coming to miss the life so acutely.... A few extreme cases felt that the experience there had been a glorious one, while most of us felt that it had been merely wonderful. I think the Vietnam was what we had instead of happy childhoods." (382-383)

Writers and storytellers(here I am thinking of Ron Maxwell's films)have made war possible from ancient days(thank you Homer for the Illiad and the Odessy) to the present. War can be idealized and romanticized. For Faust, 'war by its very definition is a story.' War imposes an 'orderly narrative on what without its definition of purpose and structure would be simply violence.'
Robert E. Lee loved war because of its stories, ones in which he had been a character in the Mexican-American War and ones that he, and the Army of Northern Virginia, were creating in December 1862. The terribleness of war became very real to Robert E. Lee in the late afternoon of July 3, 1863 and, I suspect, his fondness for the war's story drained away, even to his very last day on earth.

Help Note: This chapter can be obtained by using your local library's inter-library loan services or by contacting me.

Now Available: Three Books about Civilians on Both Sides of the Mason Dixon Line

Civil War Petersburg: Confederate City in the Crucible of War, A. Wilson Greene,
Hardcover, 384 pages, University of Virginia Press (Spring, 2007), ISBN: 0813925703

In the past ten years, the urban and civilian aspect of the American Civil War has started to be addressed. Gettysburg, Atlanta, New York City, Charleston, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Pittsburgh, and Knoxville have been received attention. Greene, historian working at Pamplin Park, Virginia and author of essays considering the character and memory Stonewall Jackson, addresses the urban wartime history of Peterburg, Virginia

Few wartime cities in Virginia held more importance than Petersburg. It's written history has lacked both an adequate military and civilian home front work. The noted Civil War historian A. Wilson Greene now provides an expertly researched and eloquently written study of the Virginia city that was second only to Richmond in size and strategic significance. Industrial, commercial, and extremely prosperous, Petersburg was home to a large African American community, including the state's highest percentage of free blacks.

On the eve of the Civil War, the city elected a conservative, pro-Union approach to the sectional crisis. Little more than a month before Virginia's secession did Petersburg finally express pro-Confederate sentiments, at which point the city threw itself wholeheartedly into the effort, with large numbers of both white and black men serving. Over the next four years, Petersburg's citizens watched their once-beautiful city become first a conduit for transient soldiers from the Deep South, then an armed camp, and finally the focus of one of the Civil War's most physically and environmentally damaging campaigns.

At war's end, Petersburg's antebellum prosperity evaporated under pressures from inflation, chronic shortages, and the extensive damage done by Union artillery shells. Greene's book tracks both Petersburg's civilian experience and the city's place in Confederate military strategy and civilian administration. Employing unpublished sources, the book weaves a uniquely personal story of thousands of citizen-free blacks, slaves and their holders, factory owners, merchants-all of whom shared a singular experience in Civil War Virginia.

A People at War: Civilians and Soldiers in America's Civil War, Scott R. Nelson and Carol Sheriff, Hardcover: 384 pages, Oxford University Press, $25.00 (Spring 2007)

Claiming more than 600,000 lives, the American Civil War had a devastating impact on countless numbers of common soldiers and civilians, even as it brought freedom to millions. This book shows how average Americans coped with despair as well as hope during this vast upheaval.

A People at War brings to life the full humanity of the war's participants, from women behind their plows to their husbands in army camps; from refugees from slavery to their former masters; from Mayflower descendants to freshly recruited Irish sailors. We discover how people confronted their own feelings about the war itself, and how they coped with emotional challenges (uncertainty, exhaustion, fear, guilt, betrayal, grief) as well as physical ones (displacement, poverty, illness, disfigurement). The book explores the violence beyond the battlefield, illuminating the sharp-edged conflicts of neighbor against neighbor, whether in guerilla warfare or urban riots.

The authors travel as far west as China and as far east as Europe, taking us inside soldiers' tents, prisoner-of-war camps, plantations, tenements, churches, Indian reservations, and even the cargo holds of ships. They stress the war years, but also cast an eye at the tumultuous decades that preceded and followed the battlefield confrontations. An engrossing account of ordinary people caught up in life-shattering circumstances, A People at War captures how the Civil War rocked the lives of rich and poor, black and white, parents and children--and how all these Americans pushed generals and presidents to make the conflict a people's war.

Scott Nelson is Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary. He is the author of Iron Confederacies: Southern Railways, Klan Violence, and Reconstruction and Steel Drivin' Man: The Untold Story of John Henry and the Birth of an American Legend. Carol Sheriff is Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary. She is the author of The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862. (Text supplied by the publisher.)

Torn Families: Death And Kinship at the Battle of Gettysburg, Michael A. Dreese, McFarland Publishing, 232 pp. Spring 2007

The Battle of Gettysburg lasted only three days but involved more than 160,000 soldiers-Union and Confederate. Seven thousand died outright on the battlefield; hundreds more later succumbed to their wounds. For each of these soldiers, family members somewhere waited anxiously. Some went to Gettysburg themselves in search of their wounded loved ones. Some were already present as soldiers themselves. In this book are extraordinary-and sometimes heartbreaking-stories of the strength of family ties during the Battle of Gettysburg. Fathers and mothers, siblings and spouses all suffered together, even as they drew strength from one another. Their stories are told here with the help of excerpts from diaries, letters and other correspondence, which provide a first-hand account of the human drama of Gettsyburg on the battlefield and the home front. (Information taken from publisher)

Michael A. Dreese is the author of five books: 'The Hospital on Seminary Ridge at the Battle of Gettysburg' (2002) and 'The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg' (2000), 'This Flag Never Goes Down!: 40 Stories of Confederate Battle Flags and Color Bearers at the Battle of Gettysburg' (2004), 'Never Desert the Old Flag!: 50 Stories of Union Battle Flags and Color-Bearers at Gettysburg' (2002) and 'An Imperishable Fame: The Civil War Experience of George Fisher McFarland' (1997).
Bloggers Team