Monday, June 18, 2018

Lincoln Relics Could Go On Auction Block-- Part 1

From the May 11, 2018, Chicago Tribune by Ray Long.

"The Land of Lincoln is in such financial disarray, it is looking at selling some of the Lincoln.

"The foundation that supports the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum indicated Thursday that prestigious memorabilia tied to the home-state 16th president could be sold to help pay back a loan taken out to buy a trove of items more than a decade ago."

One of the items that might be sold is a stovepipe hat believed to have been worn by Lincoln.

There is a remaining debt of $9.7 million on the loan.

Will the state help?  A spokesman for Governor Bruce Rauner called the museum a "jewel for the state."

The state runs the Lincoln library and museum.  The foundation is separately run and raises private funds to support the complex.

--Old Lincoln

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Firestorm at Peshtigo-- Part 11: Isaac Stephenson

From Wikipedia.


He worked in lumbering activities in the northeastern U.S. until 1845 when he moved to Wisconsin.  He settled in Marinette, Wisconsin (near Peshtigo)  and his lumber interests flourished, especially during the Civil War.

Stephenson suffered a great loss in the Peshtigo Fire in 1871, but soon recouped and became one of the wealthiest lumbermen in the Midwest.

He held many public offices, including at the state level and was a staunch Republican.  Stephenson was also U.S. representative from Wisconsin and after that, U.S. senator.

--Old secesh

Friday, June 15, 2018

Firestorm at Peshtigo-- Part 10: Lucius Fairchiled, Wisconsin Governor

Lucius Fairdhild, the governor of Wisconsin at the time of the 1871 Peshtigo fire was known for making quick decisions.

He had served with great distinction during the Civil War in the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry of the famous Iron Brigade.  At the Battle of Antietam he was so sick that he had to be helped onto his horse, but he led his regiment into battle on "The Bloodiest Day of America."  His regiment suffered over 50 percent casualties.

At Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, Colonel Fairchild led his regiment as the Iron Brigade faced nine times their number in Herbst's Woods.  When ordered to hold the woods "to the last extremity" to give the Union forces time to bring up reinforcements, they stood their ground.

--Old Secesh

Weather Was the Responsibility of Surgeon General's Office During the War

Weather forecasting hadn't improved a whole lot in 1871, at the time of the Peshtigo Fire.

Surprisingly, the weather was the province of the Surgeon General's Office with the aid of the Army Signal Service before and during the Civil War.  The Civil War had brought about a large expansion of Signal Service Corps.

Colonel Albert J. Meyer had been in the army assisting the chief of the Signal Corps since 1854.  By 1860, he had been appointed to the position of Chief Signal Officer.

His corps  became a strong force during the war and the Signal Corps grew importance as the army grew in size.

What?  No Weather Channel?  --Old Secesh.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hoist Your Flag Today

It is U.S. Flag Day today.  On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress okayed the new American flag.

It has been through a lot, especially during the Civil War.

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Firestorm At Peshtigo-- Part 9: Ogden Comes A-Calling

It was during this lumber boom in 1864 that William Ogden, who was so important in the early days of Chicago, and Samuel Tilden, an attorney from New York, came up from Chicago to tour the copper mines of Upper Michigan.

They stayed at Isaac Stephenson's mansion in Marinette, near Peshtigo, for a day and a half.  They agreed that the dried-out land in the area made for a fire hazard, but that that was ideal for building railroads at a fast pace.

They, of course, were interested in getting copper from the Upper Peninsula and everyone was very aware of how dangerous Lake Michigan could be with its storms.

Also, the huge lumber supply in the area around Marinette and Peshtigo would be very good for transport as well.

--Old Secesh

Firestorm At Peshtigo-- Part 8: Isaac Stephenson

Records show that Mr. Stephenson's lumber interests profited very nicely during the war.  Wood was needed.

In 1864, however, the price of lumber, which had been just $12 per thousand board foot, had risen to $24 per thousand

Well, someone had to provide the wood and Stephenson was just the man to do it.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Firestorm at Peshtigo, Isaac Stephenson-- Part 7: The Lumber Man

Isaac Stephenson was a major player in the growing northern Wisconsin lumber industry both before and after the Civil War.

When the Civil War broke out he did not go to war.  He claimed he was "anxious to go to the front" but other members of his business company "contended that I would be of a far greater service to the country by remaining where I was."

As a result, he traveled to Green Bay where he paid $300 for his exemption, as was customary.

He also raised "men suited for battle" from his loggers and lumberjacks.

In 1863 he convinced thirteen men to enter service "by paying them."  He later got another twelve to join.

--Old Secesh

Firestorm at Peshtigo-- Part 6: Francis L. Capen

In the last post, I wrote about what Abraham Lincoln had to say about this man (and he wasn't very impressed with his weather forecasts).  This was Lincoln's endorsement on a letter from Mr. Capen.

Mr. Capen's card was with his letter and read:  "Thousands of lives & millions of dollars may be saved by the application of Science to War.  Francis L. Capen.  Certified Meteorologist & Expert in Computing the Changes of the weather."

The letter requests a favorable reference to the War Department and concludes:  "I will guarantee to furnish Meteorological information that will save many a serious sacrifice."

Other letters from Capen  in the Lincoln papers demonstrate that he was more of a crank than a scientist.

15 % Chance of Rain.  --Old Secesh

Monday, June 11, 2018

Firestorm in Peshtigo-- Part 5: Lincoln On the Weather

In the events leading up to that firestorm that hit Peshtigo, Wisconsin, on October 8, 1871, the book talked about newspapers beginning to write about the weather.

President Lincoln wasn't very convinced that people who made weather forecasts knew much about their craft.  During the Civil War, he wrote about one Francis L. Capen:  "It seems to me that Mr. Capen knows nothing about the weather in advance," he wrote on April 28, 1863.  "He told me three days ago that it would not rain again till the 30th of April of the 1st of May.

"It is raining now and has been for ten hours.  I cannot spare any more time to Mr. Capen."

--Old Secesh

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Firestorm At Peshtigo, Luther Noyes-- Part 4: Battle of Cold Harbor

After he recovered, Noyes volunteered again, this time joining Company D, of the 36th Wisconsin Infantry where he served as a first lieutenant during some very hard campaigning.

Probably the worst of it was at the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia.  The night before the battle it rained very hard.  Noyes' men removed their blue coats and wrote their names and where they lived on scraps of paper and pinned them to the backs of the coats.  In case they were killed and face down, they wanted to be identified.

Noyes and his men managed to survive, though he was wounded severely in his left leg.

--Old Secesh

Monday, June 4, 2018

Firestorm At Peshtigo, Luther Noyes-- Part 3: Probably Not in the 118th Wisconsin

That must have been an error on the infantry regiment that he served in first as I could not find any information about a 118th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.

Wikipedia lists just 53 Wisconsin regiments in service.

Very likely, then, it might have been the 18th Wisconsin.  If so, this regiment mustered into service March 15, 1862, in Milwaukee and was sent to St. Louis, arriving March 30 and from there sent to Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee where they were involved in the Battle of Shiloh before receiving much in the way of training.

--Old Secesh

Civil War Connection to the Peshtigo Firestorm, Luther Noyes-- Part 2: Served Twice in the Union Army

From the book "Firestorm at Peshtigo" by Denise Gess and William Lutz.

Luther Noyes was the publisher of the Marinette and Peshtigo Eagle newspaper.  He started publishing it June 24, 1871, just 4 months before the firestorm that so many do not know about because it took place on October 8, the same date as the Great Chicago Fire.

And, he had a Civil War connection.

He was from New York, but had moved to Wisconsin where, with the coming of the Civil War, he mustered in Union service twice.

His first service was with the 118th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Company C.  But illness forced him to take leave.

--Old Secesh

Sunday, June 3, 2018

"Firestorm At Peshtigo"

While on vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida, earlier this year, I finished the book "Firestorm At Peshtigo" by Denise Gess and William Lutz.  It is about the huge fire at Peshtigo, Wisconsin, on October 8, 1871, and resulted in the deaths of at least 1,500 and possibly as many as 2,500 people.

Most people don't know anything about it because it took place the same day and night as the Great Chicago Fire which covered a much smaller area and resulted in far fewer deaths.

Taking place in 1871, just six years after the Civil War, there were a lot of veterans of the war as well as civilians who lived through it.

Some of those people was Luther Noyes, Isaac Stephenson and Wisconsin Governor Lucius Fairchild.  Also, the U.S. Signal Service, forerunner of the Weather Bureau.

I'll write about these connections.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Sackets Harbor in the Civil War-- Part 3: Madison Barracks

The Army built what became the Madison Barracks beginning in 1816 on the site of the old War of 1812 Fort Pike, and earthwork.  Only this fortification was built of the more solid limestone with 19-inch walls.  It was garrisoned by five companies of the 2nd U.S. Infantry in 1816.

President Monroe visited 4 August 1817 and that same year, the fortification was named for former President Madison.  Limestone barracks, officers' quarters and support structures were added by October 1819.

Lt. Ulysses S. Grant was stationed at the Madison Barracks, located in Sackets Harbor as quartermaster from 1849-1852 after his service in the Mexican War.

--Old Secesh