"The trouble with Jeff is that he lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech."

Author Archives: Jeff

Oh Hard Tack, Come Again No More

There’s an adage the soldiers march on their stomach, and there is some real truth to that. If you’ve ever tried doing anything that remotely requires exertion while hungry… well. I suppose you’d well know what I mean. You fatigue easier, you lose concentration, your body turns to cannibalizing its own muscle mass in order […]

American Horrors, Part II: No Justice for Them Here

Note: This is the second part in a series of vignettes about the roots of post-Civil War institutionalized racism in the United States, focusing on the lives of two participants– Ida B. Wells in defense of African-American lives and rights, and ‘Pitchfork’ Ben Tillman, one of the architects of Jim Crow. Part I: Roots of […]

American Horrors: Roots of Oppression, Racism, and Black Resistance, Part I

Preface: On NPR this morning, I heard a news story about one of the many series of protests of the police killings of black men across the United States, two just this week alone. Increasingly, and indeed in one of the sound clips NPR played, these killings of unarmed black men are increasingly portrayed as […]

Massachusetts Civil War Monuments Project

In the interest of blatant self-promotion, I wanted to share widely and boost the signal of an informal project that I’m very happy to have become involved with. A little earlier this year on Memorial Day Weekend, long-time friend and historian Patrick Browne (he of the Historical Digression blog, which you really need to follow […]

When the World Grew Mad: The Somme

A strange sight crossed the eyes of travelers at London’s famed Waterloo Station this morning, a vision one hundred years anachronistic. Hundreds of young men dressed as Tommys from the Great War milled about in the main concourse, some quietly, others chatting with their chums, a number answering questions from confused passers-by. The answer to […]

Not Your Father’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’

Perhaps one of the more amusing tales of the Civil War is the nigh-forgotten Battle of Wauhatchie on October 28-29 of 1863. While there may be some myth amongst the tale, and a healthy dose of a soldier’s exaggeration of the truth, there are sufficient reports to suggest that one particular, peculiar incident did in […]

The Case for Major General William Shepard

Major General William Shepard was a man with a complicated legacy. At one turn, hero of the French and Indian War of 1754-63 and the American Revolution, Shepard commanded the 4th Massachusetts Militia through 22 actions as its colonel before it was sent home in the winter of 1783, one of the last to leave […]

The Many Roads of Edwin Wentworth

One of my favorite poems from the Civil War era was one written by an author whose name remains unknown, an ode to the unheralded, uncelebrated common soldier (reproduced in this post). One of the points it makes so poignantly is that the officers, the generals, the politicians– they are well represented in the histories […]

Goodrich’s War: Epilogue

This is the final entry detailing the letters home of Loren Goodrich of Co. F, 14th Connecticut. The rest of the series– ten parts in all– may be found in the archives of this website. Goodrich’s War: Complete Loren Goodrich remained with Co. F and the 14th Connecticut for another thirteen days or so, crossing […]

Goodrich’s War: The Gettysburg Campaign

This is Part 9 of an ongoing series built around the letters home of Loren Goodrich, Co. F 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. See the entire collection to date here: Temporary Hero Archive: Loren Goodrich (Parts 1-9) The Gettysburg Campaign of 1863 was Robert E. Lee’s last invasion of the north– an attempt to defeat the […]