History

Introducing Memento Mori

Hello friends! I’d like to announce a new blog dedicated to cemetery photography called Memento Mori. If you enjoy cemetery art, sculpture, and history, like I do, you’ll love this new blog. I hope to update it with new photos 4-5 times a week. I grew up with an interest in cemeteries. As an amateur historian, I loved the Victorian Period especially, with its romantic architecture, literature, and art. I hate everything about modern cemeteries, with their flat, cheap, and mass-produced headstones.

When I was younger, I enjoyed visiting cemeteries and looking at the artwork, and naturally, I wanted to share what I’d seen. As I got better at photography, I thought back to people like Matt Hucke, also a native Chicagoan, who captured images of this beautiful and haunting artwork, much of which is in danger due to erosion and vandalism. Although I’m not nearly as good a photographer, I created this blog to share some of my work. I hope you enjoy seeing these images as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Check it out at memento-mori.co, and follow to get daily photos in your in-box.

Gettysburg: The Last Invasion by Allen Guelzo

Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (2013) by Allen Guelzo charts the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 to July 24, 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North during the American Civil War. The campaign culminated in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, in which approximately 48,000 Americans became casualties. In the end, the two armies settled into camps in roughly the same place they started.

The book is divided into four parts. Part 1 covers the march to Gettysburg, and the others cover each subsequent day of the battle. It’s a linear history from beginning to end, and focuses on the big picture. There’s nothing new to read about the fighting, but Guelzo draws from extensive sources to explore how the battle was fought and the politics of both armies.

Guelzo compares the Battle of Gettysburg with battles from mid-nineteenth century European conflicts to argue that the American Civil War was a decidedly pre-modern war. The high casualty rolls were not the result of outdated tactics facing modern weapons, but the result of inexperienced, amateur soldiers and officers. Instead of driving their opponents away with bayonets, they stood and blasted away at each other at close range. This poor training erased any advantage the rifle might have offered, with some estimating that only one in 500 shots actually hit their target.

Politics also played a role in how the armies fought. The Union Army was roughly divided into two camps: pro-McClellan and anti-McClellan, or moderate pro-war Democrats and radical abolitionist Republicans. Guelzo makes an interesting case that George G. Meade, who took command of the Army of the Potomac days prior to the battle, was a McClellanite who promoted his fellow partisans over their ideological opponents. Meade is usually described as non-political, so this is a fresh perspective.

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Abandoned Paper Mill in Deferiet, New York

In 1899, the St. Regis Paper Company built 52 homes, a general store, and a hotel on a manmade island in the Black River and called it Deferiet. The St. Regis Paper Company at one time employed hundreds of Italian, Hungarian, and Polish immigrants, and up to 1,500 people lived in Deferiet. Today, Deferiet is home to less than 300 residents. The EPA and the village consider the old mill an environmental hazard.

Gettysburg 2017: Pickett’s Charge

In this installment of my video blog documenting my recent trip to Gettysburg National Military Park, I explore the main Confederate attack on July 3, 1863: Pickett’s Charge. Longstreet’s attack on the Union center at Gettysburg is stuff of legend, but even at the time most observers knew it wouldn’t succeed, including Longstreet himself. Years later, when asked why the attack failed, George Pickett replied, “I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.”

Gettysburg 2017: Little Round Top and Sickle’s Salient

In this installment of my video blog documenting my recent trip to Gettysburg National Military Park, I explore key sites of the fight on July 2, 1863: Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Peach Orchard, and Cemetery Ridge. Longstreet’s attack on the Union left flank at Gettysburg is probably one of the most famous of the war. It was only quick action by Union commanders that saved the day.

Gettysburg 2017: Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill

In this installment of my video blog documenting my recent trip to Gettysburg National Military Park, I explore key sites of the fight for Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill on July 2, 1863. That evening, Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s Corps demonstrated against the Union left flank, but this became a sideshow, gaining nothing but additions to the casualty roles. It’s interesting to explore the battlefield’s lesser-known quarter.

Gettysburg 2017: Day 1

In this installment of my video blog documenting my recent trip to Gettysburg National Military Park, I explore key sites of the first day of battle, July 1, 1863: McPherson Ridge, Barlow’s Knoll, the death of General John F. Reynolds, and capture of Brig. General Archer. I’ve learned a lot about this important Civil War battle, but I also learned not to eat a powdered doughnut before recording a vlog.