Maine at War: A Conversation with Writer Brian Swartz (part three)

Whenever he visits Fredericksburg, Maine at War blogger Brian Swartz stops by the Slaughter Pen Farm to walk the route taken by the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment on December 13, 1862. (Photo courtesy of Susan Swartz)

part three in a four-part series

I’m talking this week with writer Brian Swartz about his excellent blog Maine at War. In yesterday’s segment, we talked about the connection people in Maine felt—or didn’t feel—to the war taking place so far from home, and how Brian’s blog really gets at those connections on a very human level.

He’s also good at capturing big events from a soldier’s-eye view, like, “Joe Hooker takes command, and here’s what the soldiers think,” “emancipation happens, and here’s what the soldiers think.”

Chris Mackowski: Tying that back to what you just said [in the last segment], I think you do a good job of making the war very personal through the stories of these individuals. 

Brian Swartz: Well thank you. That’s been the goal from the beginning. I’ve learned the hard way not to trust the validity of what the generals publish in the original records. I’m sure you’re aware that there were some Union generals that would ignore what they had done wrong or take credit for something that somebody else did right. I’m thinking about Oliver Otis Howard at Chancellorsville, who spent very little time talking about his failure to secure his flank in his official records report. But the soldiers, the ones on the front lines, identify what’s happening.

Both sides of my family have had strong military traditions. My father was a United States Marine aviator in World War II, and then he was an Air Force combat pilot for two tours in Korea. My mother was a Coast Guard veteran, a Coast Guard SPAR in World War II. Her brother served a year in Vietnam in a non-combat role. My brother just retired from the Maine National Guard as a colonel after 30 years in service in both the Guard and the Army, and that included a year’s tour as the coalition brigade commander in Afghanistan. Particularly from my father, some of his tales were probably where I learned to focus more on the people on the lower-echelon levels. He retired as a major, so he never became a general, but sometimes I think wearing your first star can change a man’s attitude about himself, whereas down among the grunts, I really appreciate what the man at the regimental level did, from the lowest private even up to colonel. Ordinary Mainers got the job done and came home. It was just incredible.

Chris: The way you articulate that makes it sound like no-nonsense Yankee sensibility.

Brian: It is. There’s the attitude up here that, at least when you get away from the halls of government and anything above Augusta, that “We’ll take care of this and get it done.” You see it often at the local level. The town needs something done and volunteers will get together—say, it’s something like a construction project—they make the plans and they build it. The Mainers that were here were very independent and self-sufficient, particularly the farmers, sailors, loggers, and fishermen, and they would not let anything stand in the way of getting the job done.

I am surprised at how many and why so many rallied around the flag of our state. Fifteen percent of the state’s population went off to war, and even considering the draft, I still cannot determine why these volunteers all did it. But they took with them their ideals of “We want to get the job done, and we want to go home.”

I particularly see that in some of the writings from John Haley in the 17th Maine. [Haley’s book, The Rebel Yell and the Yankee Hurrah: The Civil War Journal of a Maine Volunteer (Downeast, 1985) is one of the best-written primary accounts of the war available.] Some of the other material I’ve come across from that Army of the Potomac regiment in the battle of Fredericksburg and that disastrous fall and winter, thanks to Burnside and his incompetence—that’s my own opinion—were men who just stayed with it.

A year or two ago I wrote a blog post about a letter that was written by a local soldier who explained why he and his comrades were staying with the flag. It was very poignant and moving. I am proud to be able to write about these people.

Unfortunately, I do not have any blood ancestors who served in a Federal unit, at least from Maine. Even though I had family here in the Penobscot Valley by the 1850s, none of them served in the military. Fortunately, my maternal grandfather’s mother was a widow. She married someone who was a veteran of the 22nd Maine as her second husband, so I view him as a Union soldier who was adopted into the family. I’m proud to claim him as my one Maine connection.

Chris: I still have family in Maine, but I don’t have any ancestors from the state who fought. But it’s been really neat to find guys who are from the same places I lived and worked up there. You have these connections and, like you said, you sort of adopt these guys and become very partial toward them. Do you have a particular regiment that you’re partial to?

Brian: Yes, the 11th Maine Infantry.

Chris: What do you love about them?

Brian: Specifically, Company D with Sergeant Robert Brady and his son, who was 16 when he joined, Robert Brady Jr., who actually went on to write the regimental history. I just had the impression that this particular regiment epitomized the ordinary men of Maine that got together, served together, went and fought some confusing battles for this particular outfit. They were tough, they had that ability, as Mainers do, to look up the chain of command and see which of the officers were phonies and which officers really cared for their men. Other than that, I can’t really tell you why, other than that they seemed to be a real cast of characters, many of them being from the Penobscot Valley—and because I’ve lived here most of my life, there’s a connection there. I’m familiar with the area.

Chris: If you were to point someone in the direction of trying to learn more about Maine’s story during the war, obviously your blog is the place to go, but if people want to know more, what would you tell them?

Brian: There are some books out there but not many. I would recommend that if someone was looking for the history of a particular Maine regiment to read Edward Tobie’s History of the 1st Maine Cavalry. It’s well written, and the action often flows very well—granted that it’s in 19th Century grammar and writing style. The book Maine Roads to Gettysburg by Tom Huntington is a very good introduction to some of the Maine regiments and units at Gettysburg. I like the way he takes these units from their muster or formation to when they arrive at Gettysburg and what they do there. He has done Maine history quite a service in articulating the stories of those particular units.

————

Of course, if you’re going to mention “Maine” and “Gettysburg,” there’s one personality who towers over the rest. When we wrap up our conversation tomorrow, I’ll ask Brian about JLC.

Maine at War: A Conversation with Writer Brian Swartz (part two)

Maine at War blogger Brian Swartz stands at Lookout Point on Lookout Mountain. With either his wife, Susan, or their son, Christopher, in tow, Swartz has visited many Civil War battlefields east of the Mississippi River. (Photo courtesy of Chris Swartz)

Part two of a four-part series

I’m talking this week with Brian Swartz, a former writer and editor for Maine’s Bangor Daily News. While with the paper, he started a regular column and blog called Maine at War. He belongs to Richardson’s Civil War Round Table in Searsport, Maine and for the past two years has chaired the Bangor Historical Society committee that organized Drums on the Penobscot: A Civil War Experience.

Yesterday, Brian explained the origins of his work, and we began to get into the particulars of how he pulls his material together.

Chris Mackowski: You talk about old newspapers. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at old editions and I just find them to be fascinating sources of soldier letters, particularly—and as sources they’re often overlooked. I’ve gone through old editions of the Bangor Whig & Courier and found gold nugget after gold nugget.

Brian Swartz: I will agree with you there. Obviously, you and I have researched some familiar pages. I find that I ignore the reports from the battlefield and the general press accounts. They’re inflated and inaccurate. But when you read the soldier accounts. . . . The soldier either sent the letter directly to the paper or a proud mother or father asked the paper to publish a letter. The nuggets that are dropped in, a paragraph at a time in these pages, take you so incredibly close to the war.

I am wrapping up research I’m doing for book two of my “Maine at War” book series. I just wrapped up Brandy Station, and that included a visit about a week and a half ago to Fleetwood Hill for the first time since the Civil War Trust [now American Battlefield Trust] had acquired it and knocked down that house that was on top of it. In my research, I found a letter published in a paper written from a trooper in the 1st Maine Cavalry. He participated in that charge up and over Fleetwood Hill, and his observations about what the regiment did afterwards—it was almost like riding alongside him on a horse. It was incredible, and it was in a newspaper.

Chris: Do you have particular papers that you prefer over others?

Brian: Yes. The Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, the Portland Daily Press, the Maine Farmer, which was out of Augusta, dedicated to agriculture in Maine and had a four-page issue every week that often had excellent material like letters and reports and such from people that were involved in the war, as well as some astute political observations. There was the Eastport Sentinel Downeast. And when I have time, I go to research the Lewiston newspapers from the period.

I should mention one more paper: the Republican Journal in Belfast was a pro-Democrat, anti-Lincoln administration newspaper, and it gives delightful insight into the other side of the coin.

Chris: You also mentioned that you spend a fair amount of time in the state archives. I know they’ve got a really neat collection of stuff. Are there any particular treasures there you appreciate?

Brian: In researching the 5th Maine Infantry, I came across the commanding officer’s report of the regiment’s participation in the Chancellorsville campaign, particularly in their effort to get past the Confederate defenses on Marye’s Heights at the battle of Second Fredericksburg. And then they went out and fought the battle of Salem Church. It was very well written and very detailed. I cannot remember that officer’s name, but it comes across that it really bothered him that his regiment was so shot to pieces.

There are so many treasures. The one that I found recently that I just finished writing up: Freeman McGilvery was promoted to major in late 1862 or early 1863, and that opened up the captaincy of the 6th Maine Battery, which he had raised. The lobbying that went back and forth in the letters to the state house in Augusta is very interesting, almost to the point of being hilarious in the commentary between the men and some of the officers.

Then of course there are Sarah Sampson’s and Isabella Fog’s letters, who were both women from Maine that became volunteer nurses. Whenever volunteer nurses arrived, they usually dedicated themselves for the rest of the war serving as nurses. Both them wrote letters that are on file in the state archives.

Chris: One of the things I think is really neat about your blog is that you do have a lot of that civilian aspect—the home front, the contributions of Mainers in Maine during the war—which I think is an aspect of the war that tends to get overlooked in favor of the mud and blood and battlefield stuff. What do you think it was like to be in Maine, so far away from the front lines during that time?

Brian: If you had a direct connection with the military, like a son, husband, cousin, uncle, father, etc., who was going to war, it was difficult, especially depending on where you lived.

In the larger cities, there seemed to be more of a support network for women who saw their household income threatened because the man who was providing the money went to war. Thirteen dollars a month [a private’s pay] isn’t going to cover much. If you go out into the outlying towns, it became more serious, in the sense that now if a family has lost a father and son that went off to war, now mom is home, usually with younger children. How is she going to till the fields, chop the firewood, cook, and raise the kids? It was tough.

The lack of communications really made that loneliness more acute. The military was good at getting the mail to and from the soldiers and, in many families, the women wrote frequently. Say there was an elderly father left behind, or a middle-aged father: he would write to his boy that went off to war. Friends would write to soldiers.

But the press accounts about battles would come back before any news about casualty lists, and that would lead to a lot of fear. I sensed that particularly in the pages of the newspapers. People just worried.

There were many others who didn’t care that the war was going on. Some merchants did well, especially manufacturers of wartime goods and people who owned steamers and sailing ships that the war department would lease or rent—however they paid for that.

There was an aspect where it was almost like Vietnam, which was also concurrent to my growing up. For those who had a connection to the war, the war was going on. For the rest of us who had no family over there, it was just a story on the evening news, and I sensed that the Civil War could have been that way in Maine, again particularly in the larger towns and cities. If you had a physical connection to the war, it was happening. If you did not, it was just a press account in the newspaper, or maybe a story told at the general store or something.

————

Brian’s blog successfully captures the soldier’s-eye view of Maine at war, on the home front and on the front lines. “I really appreciate what the man at the regimental level did,” he says in tomorrow’s segment. We’ll explore that further, and we’ll talk about the things Brian has learned from those men by spending so much time reading their accounts.

Maine at War: A Conversation with Writer Brian Swartz (part one)

Brian Swartz (photo courtesy of Gabor Degre)

Part one of a four-part series

Much romance surrounds the state of Maine’s role in the Civil War, in large part because of the myth of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and his role on Little Round Top. However, as Tom Huntington points out in his new book Maine Roads to Gettysburg: How Joshua Chamberlain, Oliver Howard, and 4,000 Men from the Pine Tree State Helped Win the Civil War’s Bloodiest Battle, there was more to Gettysburg than Chamberlain.

Writer Brian Swartz, a native Mainer himself, has been exploring the Pine Tree State’s role in the war in an even wider and deeper way. His weekly blog, Maine at War, which he’s been writing since the Sesquicentennial, tells the story of “soldiers, nurses, sailors, chaplains, physicians” sent “south to preserve their country in the 1860s.”

“‘Maine at War’ introduces these heroes and heroines, who, for the most part, upheld the state’s honor during that terrible conflict,” the blog explains. “We tour the battlefields where they fought, and we learn about the Civil War by focusing on Maine’s involvement with it.” Swartz also adds a warning: “Be prepared: As I discover to this very day, the facts taught in American classrooms don’t always jibe with Civil War reality.”

Having deep roots of my own in Maine and a deep pride in Mainers on the battlefield, I reached out to Brian to talk about his work. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity. 

Brian Swartz: Let me begin with a brief introduction. I grew up in Brewer [Maine]. We had a house on the edge of my grandparents’ farm, and it was on Chamberlain Street, so there’s always been, for me at least since I was very young, a name recognition with Joshua Chamberlain. [Chamberlain was born in Brewer, on Chamberlain Street, and his birthplace still stands.]

I think it was in the winter of 2011 that I approached the top brass of Bangor Daily News, where I was working as the special sections editor and also the editor of The Weekly, which was a 12-page broadsheet that we published every Thursday in the greater Bangor area. I proposed writing a monthly column about Maine’s involvement in the Civil War, and it was going to be called “Maine at War.” I was instructed to focus just on Maine and not the general campaigns of the war.

Initially, I believed there was not much material out there, but that was due to my ignorance. Once I began researching Maine’s involvement in the war, I realized that the state’s contribution to saving the Union was substantial, both in terms of the military and the civilians at home.

Being a transplanted Mainer—my parents are a Virginian dad and a Maine-born mother. I was born in Victoria, Texas, where my father was stationed with the Air Force. My parents divorced in the late 1950s, and Mom moved us “home” to Brewer, Maine, where her parents lived—so I grew up in Maine. I have a tremendous love for the state and for the people who tough it out here. It’s a difficult state in which to make a living. The more I researched Maine’s involvement in the war, the more I really came to appreciate what our ancestors had done to help save the Union.

Chris Mackowski: Did you have a particular interest in the Civil War that made you pitch this idea?

Brian: Yes. The Civil War centennial started in 1961, of course. I was growing up in Brewer at the time. I was in school and the Bangor Daily News—ironically, my future employer—every Saturday in the comics ran a strip that was based on some event happening in the Civil War that particular week. I loved it.

I’ve always enjoyed history, particularly military history, and in trading letters with my dad, I was telling him what I was reading and telling him about the Civil War, and he mentioned that he is descended from several Virginia Confederates, most of them from the Shenandoah Valley.

It turned out that my great-grandfather, Joseph Swartz of Rockbridge County, which includes Lexington, had served in the Richmond forts in the winter of 1864 and 1865. He was reluctantly dragooned into the military at either 16 or 17 and survived the war. He married a woman, her name was Elizabeth Ochiltree, whose had three of her four brothers die in Confederate service. Two of them died of disease while serving in the 5th Virginia Infantry. The youngest brother was drafted in the summer of 1864 into the 14th Virginia Cavalry and then killed in a skirmish outside Cedarville in November 1864.

This information from my dad gave me a connection to the war and—I cannot call it a “visceral connection,” but it was like “Wow, we had people here?” It just brought an interest in the Civil War more to life than an interest in World War I or the Revolutionary War. I’ve been a fan of the Civil War all my life. I took my family to Gettysburg the first time in 1989, and was enamored with the place. It was much more than what I had expected.

Then, as the Civil War Sesquicentennial approached, I got this idea for a monthly column. I pitched it, it was approved, and was called “Maine of War,” and I started immediately in April 2011 with a blog post about Fort Sumter. There was a particular Mainer who was supposed to be aboard the Powhatan, the big Navy steamer that was actually sent off to Pensacola instead.

I continued with the column monthly for about a year, and then when I was assigned editorship of The Weekly, we needed material to fill the pages, so the column became weekly. The print edition continued until my retirement from the Bangor Daily News in April 2014, but I published my first blog post on March 6, 2012, and that has continued weekly to this day.

Chris: One of the things I like so much about your blog is that you’ve got a lot of material that is really well researched, and you’re able to keep the content current and fresh and updated. What goes into putting this together every week?

Brian: Research. Mostly my own, and occasionally somebody provides me information. Usually, that comes from a descendant of a Maine soldier who served in the war. Some of the stories I’ve told have come that way. I have others that have been provided to me that I haven’t written yet.

I’ve spent countless hours at the Maine State Archives with Dave Cheever, who is the Maine State Archivistand a good friend of mine. He is also a Civil War buff and extremely knowledgeable about Maine’s involvement in the war.

I’ve also spent far too many hours researching the Maine newspapers that were published from 1861-1865, just looking for material, sometimes specifics, sometimes just seeing what’s in a weekly newspaper, like the Maine Farmer, which, despite its name, turned out to be a very good source of Maine-based material in the Civil War—just going through edition by edition to see what they’ve got.

I pull all of that together, and then craft the individual blog posts. Some of them are in a series. I just finished one up on nurse Sarah Sampson of Bath, who should have her own Mercy Street-type TV show or movie. From my naivety in the early winter of 2011, believing there wasn’t much information out there on Maine’s involvement in the Civil War, I’ve come to realize that I could write these blog posts for another 50 years and not even begin to touch what’s out there.

————

As former journalists, Brian and I both appreciate the value of an old newspaper as a research tool. In tomorrow’s segment, we’ll talk a little more about that, as well as some of his other favorite sources as he researches the stories of Maine at war.

Jay Jorgensen’s Civil War Journey

Top 10 @ Gettysburg-coverby ECW Correspondent Sarah Waychoff

Jay Jorgensen spends his days as a judge on the Vicinage 8 Superior Court in New Jersey and his evenings—and every other chance he can get—as a Civil War history enthusiast. That includes not only reading and battlefielding but also writing.

For Jorgensen, the calling for Civil War involvement didn’t emerge immediately. “I didn’t like the Civil War at all,” he admits. “I took a class in college, and it was taught by one of those boring professors who just say ‘Read pages 25-45’—that kind of thing.” 

As his education ramped up, particularly with law school, Jorgensen lost the leisure time to read and truly enjoy it. Jorgensen received his undergraduate degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1978, and his Juris Doctor from Villanova University Law School in 1981.

Once finished with law school, he read the book R.E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman. It piqued Jorgensen’s interest.

Jorgensen’s mother also reminded him of his family history. His great-grandfather fought with the 5th Ohio Cavalry back in the Civil War. From there Jorgensen decided to delve into the history of the war at full speed.

EP Alexander CoverBy 1999, he went back to school—while still practicing law—and added a graduate degree in military history from American Military University.

Jorgensen also extended his Civil War education by joining a roundtable, first attending one in Northern New Jersey. “Which wasn’t all that conducive to me,” he concedes. He stopped attending the meetings—but then had an idea about a year later.

“I thought, ‘Let me see if I can start a Civil War Roundtable,’” he says. Jorgensen hoped to find like-minded people that shared a passion for the Civil War. “The desire to just get people together to talk about the Civil War is what prompted me,” he says.

On September 17, 1990, Jorgensen held the first meeting of the Robert E. Lee Civil War Roundtable of Central New Jersey. “Twelve people showed up,” he laughs. Not exactly the numbers he was hoping for.

Luck was on his side, though. A nine-part television series on the Civil War by Ken Burns aired. This created a frenzy of enthusiasts to pop up. By the time the second meeting of the Robert E. Lee Civil War Roundtable came the following month, three dozen people showed up.

Since then, the average monthly attendance brings 55 to 70 people together to discuss Civil War topics.

Jorgensen’s favorite aspect of the meetings?

“The ability to bring in some knowledgeable speakers,” he says. “We’ve been very fortunate in that. For the most part they are excellent speakers. They’re able to bring to life whatever topic they may be speaking about at any given meeting.”

Gettysburg's Bloody Wheatfield-coverJorgensen himself speaks on certain topics, including his own Civil War books. He has written several books on topics ranging from the battle of the Wheatfield at Gettysburg to a walking tour of the Wheatfield.

He wrote Gettysburg’s Bloody Wheatfield, his first book, after five years of research. At first, Jorgensen was slightly reluctant to write on the subject that had already been fleshed out time and time again. He knew that it would be a challenge, but eventually decided he was up for the task. “I like to roll up my sleeves and put together something that would have an impact on the general body of knowledge about the Battle of Gettysburg,” he says.

Gettysburg's Leadership Lessons-coverAnother favorite project of his involved mixing work with play. Gettysburg’s Leadership Lessons for Lawyers (and Non-Lawyers too!) dovetails from Jorgensen’s daytime profession. The book recounts more than 150 stories from the battle of Gettysburg and provides leaderships lessons particularly germane for lawyers but which also “covered everyone else in the world,” too.

In 2016, as he drove home with his wife from Gettysburg after she had run a half-marathon, an idea dawned upon Jorgensen: he thought about using a David Letterman approach to write the top ten things for Gettysburg. Jorgensen gathered a group of Civil War writers and assigned each five topics with ten items in each, a la a Lettermen-esque “Top Ten” list. All together, they created the Top Ten at Gettysburg. “It was another effort for me to enjoy the Gettysburg experience,” he says of the distinctive approach. “So far it’s been pretty popular.”

When it comes to the actual writing, Jorgensen says he’s somewhat of a dinosaur. “I don’t write on the computer. I put pen to paper,” he explains. He thoroughly enjoys the research component, as well. “The responses are heartwarming because they take such an interest in what you’re trying to do and are more than happy to share information,” he says of his experience working with libraries and historical societies.

Wheatfield Walking Tour-coverJorgensen’s hard work in research and writing has not gone unnoticed. In 2002, he received the Bachelder-Coddington Award for the best new book on Gettysburg that year. The award is named after two prominent historians, John Bachelder, an 19th century historian, and Edward Coddington a 20th century historian, who both made significant contributions to the study of Gettysburg.

“Getting the award was particularly a happy event for me because it was kind of a recognition that I was right, that there hadn’t been much written about the Wheatfield, and it was something that came out that people can rely upon when they’re looking to get into that part of the battlefield,” Jorgensen says.

Jorgensen will continue his writings with a “Biking Gettysburg” book that he’s co-authoring with his wife.

For more information about Jorgensen’s books, or to order, contact historyatticbookspresident@gmail.com.

 

Georgia Infantry Regiments Get New Attention in Research Resource

7th Roster coverOur friends at Savas Beatie have been pumping out some interesting resource material lately. We told you recently about their index for the National Tribune. Their latest outing is a four-volume Biographical Roster of Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiments.

The 7th, 8th, 9th, and 11th Georgia infantry regiments spent most of the Civil War fighting under Brig. Gen. George Thomas “Tige” Anderson in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Until now, no biographical roster of their members has ever been published.

According to the publisher, “These Georgians saw it all, from the bloody battle of First Manassas through the ferocious combat of Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and the long siege of Petersburg. They finally furled their banners at Appomattox.”

Here’s more: 

Nearly 5,000 men passed through these four Georgia regiments. Each roster is organized by company in a simple and easy-to-use format. Entries feature full names (if known), promotions, demotions, casualties, transfers, and resignations for every rank—an unprecedented look into men and the structure and evolution of these organizations. They include the most comprehensive examination of the personnel originally enlisted and their subsequent service histories within these units in chronological order for the first time.

Compiler and author Richard Allen has spent nearly two decades researching scores of archives and other sources to prepare these rosters. He utilized primary sources such as the Official Records, Compiled Service Records, newspaper accounts, diaries, letters, census information, burial records, and a variety of documents from both published sources and private collections. Students of the Civil War, genealogists, and enthusiasts of Georgia history will find these rosters invaluable.

A 1990 graduate of the Maryland Institute of Art, Allen is a lifelong student of the American Civil War. The Maryland native spent a large part of his youth roaming the battlefields of the Eastern Theater and has remained a student of the Civil War ever since.

Only 100 sets—signed and numbered—were printed:

SPECS: Arrestox B Dove Gray cloth with red printing on cover and spine, head and foot bands, 60-lb. acid-free paper, 7 x 10

INDIVIDUAL: $44.95 each plus $5.00 shipping.

SET: $160.00 plus $12.00 shipping

Table of Contents page

Bios page 1

Don Pfanz Book Signing, Where Valor Proudly Sleeps, This Weekend

Don at Cemetery-smOne of the great annual traditions at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Cemetery is the annual Memorial Day Luminaria at Fredericksburg National Cemetery. This year, there’ll be an extra light shining at the event: ECW’s Don Pfanz.

Don is the author of Where Valor Proudly Sleeps: A History of Fredericksburg National Cemetery, 1866-1933, part of ECW’s “Engaging Civil War” Series, published in partnership with Southern Illinois University Press.

Don will be signing copies of his book on Saturday, May 26, at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center Bookstore from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., immediately preceding the annual luminaria. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. 

Don, a former historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, spent decades researching the cemetery’s history. He’s the man when it comes to the cemetery, and his book is the definitive account. It also offers a good overview of the creation of the entire National Cemetery system.

Here are some details about Valor:

Pfanz-cover.jpg

Many books discuss in great detail what happened during Civil War battles. This is one of the few that investigate what happened to the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Where Valor Proudly Sleeps explores a battle’s immediate and long-term aftermath by focusing on Fredericksburg National Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries created by the U.S. government after the Civil War. Pfanz shows how legislation created the National Cemetery System and describes how the Burial Corps identified, collected, and interred soldier remains as well as how veterans, their wives, and their children also came to rest in national cemeteries.  By sharing the stories of the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, its workers, and those buried there, Pfanz explains how the cemetery evolved into its current form, a place of beauty and reflection.

This book signing is hosted by Eastern National, a partner in supporting the interpretive, educational and scientific programs of the National Park Service. The bookstore is located behind the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center at 1013 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401. For more information, please call 540-693-3200 x 1100.