Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

A blog about the American Civil War, written and maintained by historian Daniel J. Vermilya, author of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014) and James Garfield and the Civil War (History Press, 2015)

Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.

"And may an Overuling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

James Garfield and Hillsdale College

For those who have visited this blog before, you might know that I am a proud alumnus of Hillsdale College, a small school in Michigan with a rich history and tradition of a classic liberal arts education. Hillsdale has a strong connection with the Civil War in its history, as well. During the 1860s, the campus was host to prominent abolitionists and speakers such as Frederick Douglass and Edward Everett. During the war itself, there were many Hillsdale students who left Michigan behind to don the Federal blue and fight to preserve the Union. Hillsdale’s connections to the Civil War go beyond those who spoke on campus and the students who fought in it, however. As it turns out, Hillsdale is connected to one of the five Civil War veterans who went on to become president: James A. Garfield.

In his early days, James Garfield did not have a discernible direction to his life. Born in a log cabin in the old Western Reserve of Northeast Ohio in 1831, Garfield did not live in a world of privilege. His father died when he was two, and his mother Eliza struggled to raise her young family. It may be said that Garfield’s upbringing was among the most difficult of any president other than Abraham Lincoln. Despite these difficult times, Garfield developed a love of reading. The pages of a book could take him away from his meager home life and transport him into new worlds. Through books, he developed the desire to become a sailor, a job which he believed would lead to a life of adventure. At the age of sixteen, he left his home and went to Cleveland looking for a job on one of the ships traveling the Great Lakes. Unsuccessful in Cleveland, Garfield instead found a job on the canal boat Evening Star, where he worked for about six weeks in the late summer and early fall of 1848. After falling into the canal repeatedly and becoming ill, James returned home to his mother. 

Upon coming home, Garfield was ill and unsure of what his next step would be. Though he still wanted to return to his work on the canal, his mother desperately wanted a better life for her son. She pleaded with James to get an education, believing that schooling was the best path toward a better life. Eliza’s efforts to convince James to go to school were aided by the presence and influence of a young teacher at a nearby school in Geauga County. Reverend Samuel D. Bates was just three years older than James, but he had been one of the first students at the Geauga Seminary in Chester, Ohio. The school had been founded by Free-Will Baptists in the early 1840s. The original charter for the school from the Ohio Legislature was rejected by its founders because it restricted the school from admitting any students of color, which was contrary to the abolitionist principles of the Free-Will Baptists who founded the school. The founders initially named the school the “Western Reserve Seminary,” only to later rename it “Geauga Seminary” because of its location in Geauga County. The school opened in 1842 in a church in Chester, Ohio, where students met while other buildings were under construction. 

According to Garfield biographer Allan Peskin, it was Bates’s enthusiasm which impacted the young Garfield. While many school teachers were cold and austere, Bates was warm and engaging. In Bates, Garfield saw something of himself. Bates was also a native of the old Western Reserve, and he had used education to pull himself up and make a life for himself. With the influence of Bates and his mother, Garfield agreed to enroll in the school and leave his life on the canal behind. To do this, his mother gave him seventeen dollars, which would cover part of his tuition. For the rest of it, Garfield would have to work hard, save, and live a spartan existence with nothing but the bare necessities. Thus, early in 1849, James Garfield became a student at the Geauga Seminary. There, his path to a better life began.[1]

James A. Garfield during his days at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute

Over the next ten years, Garfield applied himself, studying and working hard to make his way. In 1851, he became a student at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (today Hiram College), a school founded by Disciples of Christ, Garfield’s own Christian denomination. By 1853, Garfield had become so proficient in his studies that he began to teach classes to his fellow students. The following year, he left Ohio altogether and enrolled in Williams College in Massachusetts, testing into the Junior Class. After graduating from Williams in 1856, he came back to Hiram, where he resumed his teaching at the Eclectic Institute. The following year, he became the president of the school. On top of his duties in Hiram, Garfield became a well-known speaker and preacher, traveling the circuit and delivering passionate sermons throughout Northeast Ohio. In 1859, he was elected to the Ohio State Senate as a Republican in the same week that John Brown led his raid on Harpers Ferry (Brown had lived for several years in Garfield’s Senate District). 

 General Garfield

Two years later, when the Civil War began, Garfield lobbied Ohio Governor William Dennison for a position in the army, finally securing the command of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. By the end of the war, he had risen to the rank of Major General and had been elected to the House of Representatives. After seventeen years as a Republican in Congress, Garfield was elected the 20th President of the United States in 1880. While his meteoric rise to the presidency had great promise, his time in office was not long. His heroic life met a tragic end just months into his term, when he was shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881, dying of his wounds several months later. Today, James Garfield is largely forgotten as an obscure president, with many only knowing him for his assassination and death despite his fascinating life. 

 Garfield's assassination in 1881

And yet, what connection does James Garfield have to Hillsdale College?

Hillsdale College and the Geauga Seminary, where James Garfield enrolled in 1849, were founded just two years apart.  In 1844, Free-Will Baptists established the Michigan Central College in Spring Arbor, Michigan. The school was founded with the same principles in mind as the Geauga Seminary; it was to admit all students regardless of race, gender, or religion, making it one of the first schools in the United States, and the first in Michigan, to do so. By the mid-1850s, the school moved south to Hillsdale, where it changed its name and became known as Hillsdale College. 

One of the key figures in Hillsdale’s founding and early history was Ransom Dunn. A native of Vermont, Dunn became an influential figure in the Free-Will Baptists as a preacher, theologian, and educator. He taught at numerous educational institutions during his lifetime, including Hillsdale. Dunn was instrumental in raising funds for the construction of a new campus in Hillsdale, including Central Hall, which still stands in the center of Hillsdale’s campus today. Without Dunn, the school likely would not have survived through its early years, as well as the tumultuous times of the American Civil War, when many other schools died out when their students left for the Union army. Hillsdale sent a higher percentage of students to the army than any other school in the state of Michigan, surviving the ordeal and continuing to provide a strong liberal arts education while its students defended the Union on the battlefields of the South. Four Hillsdale students won the Medal of Honor during the war, and sixty died during the conflict. Dunn helped the school to survive these trying years.

Dunn’s association with Hillsdale College was just one part of his long and productive life in education. Indeed, he was involved with schools in other states, including several in Ohio, one of which just so happened to be the Geauga Seminary. Dunn was on a commission of Free-Will Baptists that founded the Geauga Seminary, and he taught at the school as well. Thus, Geauga Seminary and Hillsdale College shared the same principles in their founding, as well as some of the same professors.

 Ransom Dunn, a man critical to the success of Hillsdale College...
and future President James Garfield

Indeed, the two schools would end up sharing more than just professors. According to A Consecrated Life, an early biography of Ransom Dunn, the establishment of the school in Hillsdale led to dramatic changes for the Geauga Seminary:

“When Hillsdale College was established it was thought best to centre the educational work there, and through the influence of Ransom Dunn and Samuel Philbrick, the funds and apparatus were turned over to the college, the building sold for a public school, and the useful work of the [Geauga Seminary] merged into the new and larger institution.”[2]

An essay by John Patterson in the Pioneer History of the State of Michigan explores the combining of the two schools further:

On motion of Ransom Dunn, a committee was appointed to negotiate with the authorities of Geauga Seminary, with a view to consolidating the two schools. This seminary had been established by the Free-Will Baptist denomination in 1843 at [Chester] Geauga County, Ohio, and had been the result, to a very large extent, of the labors of Elder David Marks, who had acted as its financial agent. The trustees of this institution had rejected the first charter granted to it by the Legislature of Ohio, for the reason it excluded colored students from the privileges of the school. It was here that James A. Garfield commenced his studies. He was persuaded to enter this seminary by Rev. Samuel D. Bates, one of the founders, and for many years a trustee of Hillsdale College. Here Garfield recited to Prof. Ransom Dunn and Rev. George E. Ball, then teachers in the seminary, now of Hillsdale College and here he determined to purse a course of study.

Hon. Samuel B. Philbrick, H.D. Johnson, J.E. Snow, and Daniel Branch were among the founders and friends of this school. Daniel Branch, Mrs. Daniel Branch, John Beech, Miss Abigail Curtis, Rev. George E. Ball, D.D., Rev. Ransom Dunn, D.D., Rev. George T. Day, D.D., Prof. Spencer J. Fowler, A.M., and Rev. C.B. Mills, A.M., were among the teachers of the school. The last five persons named have been members of the faculty at Hillsdale.

After a year of negotiations, Geauga Seminary was sold, its scholarships redeemed, and the remaining effects, amounting to two thousand dollars and upwards, were transferred to Hillsdale College. Elder David L. Rice and Hon. Samuel Philbrick, of Ohio, rendered great service in procuring this transfer. Geauga Seminary and Michigan Central College were thus consolidated, and became the principal organized factors of Hillsdale College.[3]

 Hillsdale College in the 1850s

That’s right. Geauga Seminary, where future Union general and 20th President of the United States James A. Garfield received his first truly formal education, was not only founded with the same principles as those of Hillsdale College and shared some of the same professors and faculty; the school itself was incorporated into the Michigan Central School, becoming a part of Hillsdale College in 1854. By this time, Garfield himself had moved on to other schools. While Garfield had left, the Geauga Seminary’s influence on him was not over. It was there at that school where Garfield met young Lucretia Rudolph. Though it would take time before a strong relationship would develop between the two, James and Lucretia married in 1858. Thus, not only did Garfield attend school at the Geauga Seminary, but it is also where he met the future First Lady Lucretia Rudolph.

Even more than its influence in introducing Garfield to his future wife, the Geauga Seminary helped to light the fire of education within the young Garfield. Ransom Dunn was not only instrumental for Hillsdale College in its early years, but he taught and helped to shape a young James Garfield in his youth. Dunn was among several others who had an impact on the future president, teaching him to pursue higher education and truth with a strong work ethic. Garfield would go on to become one of our nation’s most erudite presidents. He was literate in several languages, well versed in science and literature, and his oratory was informed and influence by his firm grasp of the Classics. By the time he was in his mid-twenties, Garfield was teaching classes at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, becoming the school’s president in 1857 when he was only twenty-six years old. Surely, his quick rise in academics is due in large part to the schooling he received when he was young, something which was influenced dramatically by Ransom Dunn.

And what of Reverend Samuel Bates, the young man who helped to convince James Garfield to attend the Geauga Seminary? The Reverend Bates went on to found and preach at several churches and teach at several schools. Later on, he served as a Trustee at Hillsdale College for fifteen years. Throughout his life, Bates maintained a close friendship with Garfield, who never forgot the influence that the Reverend had on him. Without Bates, it is not clear if Garfield would have enrolled at the Geauga Seminary, dramatically altering his life story and his rise to prominence. 

And yet, the connection between Garfield and Hillsdale College goes further than this. Just as Garfield always remembered the influence of the Geauga Seminary, so too did his professors there remember him. When Garfield died of an assassin’s bullet in 1881, mourning spread across the United States. Memorials were held in churches, schools, and public venues throughout the nation. It was no different in Hillsdale, where the connection between the school and Garfield was not lost on the mourners. A memorial service was held at the college, and among those who spoke was none other than Garfield’s former teacher, Ransom Dunn. 

Dunn’s daughter, Helen Dunn Gates, described the difficult days surrounding the president’s death in her biography of her father, noting the strong connection between the late president and Hillsdale College:

But with the waning days of summer [Garfield’s] life went out and a nation mourned. Hillsdale joined with others in memorial services, and none more appropriately; for, as Dr. Ball said, “if there had been no Geauga Seminary from which to send out a teacher, S.D. Bates, to teach in Garfield’s school district and urge James Garfield to go to school, if there had been no Geauga Seminary at Chester Hill, five miles from his home, to which he could go in his poverty and there find help and encouragement, there would have been no General Garfield, no President Garfield. He was one of the early fruits of Free Baptist sacrifice in the cause of Christian education.’ And Geauga Seminary was now a part of Hillsdale College, and so it was eminently fitting that Ransom Dunn, who helped to found both, should speak at the Garfield memorial service. The suggestion was made by citizens that the remaining one of the group of five buildings be erected and named ‘Garfield Hall.’ But it is still waiting for some good friend of Garfield or of the college to give the necessary sum to erect and equip it, which we trust may soon be done, for the college needs today as much as then more buildings, better equipment, and larger endowment.”[4]

But for the lack of a financial backer, Hillsdale College may very well to this day have a “Garfield Hall” on its campus, in honor of the martyred president whose life was forever changed by the efforts of Ransom Dunn and other Free-Will Baptists. 

Without the efforts of Samuel Bates, Ransom Dunn, and others, James Garfield would never have become the man he did. These men and others at the Geauga Seminary were key to Garfield’s rise from the poverty of a log cabin to the battlefields of the Civil War, and from there, to a life and career in national politics that eventually led him to become the 20th President of the United States. And of course, Bates, Dunn, and others, would also be so important to the founding, survival, and success of Hillsdale College. 

 March 4, 1881. James Garfield is sworn in as the 20th President of the United States

I want to thank by good friend and college buddy Pat Maloney for his help on this research. Having just published my book on Garfield, James Garfield and the Civil War: For Ohio and the Union (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2015), I was unaware of this connection until Pat brought it to my attention. While I was familiar with Hillsdale’s background and founding by the Free-Will Baptists, and with the story of Ransom Dunn, I did not know about Dunn’s involvement with the Geauga Seminary until recently. It was only after looking into a source that Pat passed along that I realized the extent to which Hillsdale’s own Ransom Dunn and Samuel Bates impacted the life of the young James Garfield. Having grown up a short distance away from the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio, I have always felt a close connection with President Garfield, which led me to write a book on his Civil War career and the impact the war had on his life and rise to the presidency. Learning about his connections to Hillsdale only augments my appreciation for and connection to Garfield and his story.

Pat and I are both alumni of Hillsdale College, proud of its continuing legacy of standing for what is right through the years. From its initial charter prohibiting any discrimination based on race, gender, or religion, to its contribution to the Union cause during the Civil War, to its continued pursuit of a strong liberal arts education rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition today, Hillsdale has been a stalwart example of the best of American education for over 170 years. Its connection to James A. Garfield is yet another noteworthy part of that tradition.

[1] Allan Peskin, Garfield: A Life (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1978), 13.
[2] Helen Dunn Gates, A Consecrated Life: A Sketch of the Life and Labors of Rev. Ransom Dunn, D.D., 1818-1900 (Boston: Morning Star Publishing, 1901), 65-67
[3] John C. Patterson, “History of Hillsdale College” in Pioneer Collections: Reports of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, together with Reports of County, Town, and District Pioneer Societies, Vol. 6 (Lansing, MI: W.S. George and Co., State Printers and Binders, 1884), 151.
[4] Gates, A Consecrated Life, 199-200.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 5, 1863: James Garfield Resigns from the Army

152 years ago today, on December 5, 1863, James Garfield resigned his position in the Union army. He did so having achieved the rank of Major General of Volunteers, a promotion he was given for his service in the Battle of Chickamauga. Indeed, the date of rank for his promotion was September 19, 1863, the first day of Chickamauga. It was also, as fate would have it, eighteen years to the day before he succumbed to his wounds from an assassin’s bullet as president in 1881.

Garfield leaving the army at the rank of Major General of Volunteers was remarkable for a man who had risen so quickly. He was leaving the army at the age of thirty-two, just one year shy of his father's age when Abram Garfield died in Ohio in 1833. In almost the same amount of years, he had gone considerably farther in his life than his father ever had. He had been a professor, college president, state senator, and now, a general in the Union army.

Garfield had mixed feelings about leaving the army in December 1863. He did so in order to take a seat in Congress that he had been elected to the previous year. When his name had come into consideration for a congressional nomination in the summer of 1862, Garfield pledged to his friends and supporters that if he were elected, he would leave the army to serve his constituents in Congress. At the time, however, Garfield and the Union were in the midst of one of several low points during the war. While Confederates made gains on the battlefields of the South, Garfield had grown frustrated with the pace of the war and his role in it, which he believed to be quite lackluster at that time.

Garfield won his election in October 1862 while he was in Washington awaiting a new assignment in the army. That month, Garfield was embroiled in the fervor of Civil War Washington, growing frustrated at the lack of progress being made on the battlefields in stemming the tide of the Confederate rebellion. Garfield developed a strong disdain for a number of West Point educated and professional army officers, believing that too many of them adopted a conservative approach in the war that would only lead to Southern victory. In the same month in which he was elected to Congress, Garfield passionately wrote, “If the Republic goes down in blood and ruin, let its obituary be written thus: ‘Died of West Point.’” With such an attitude, it is no wonder that he had a desire to leave the army for the arena of politics.

Following Garfield’s election, Congress was not meeting for its first new session until December 1863. Thus, Garfield had time before he had to leave the army, allowing him to serve as the Chief of Staff for William Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland through most of that year. This continued service was not a sure thing, however. At least not at first. Early in 1863, Garfield wrote to Attorney General Edward Bates to ask him what he was legally required to do as a Congressman-elect who was active in the army. Did he have to resign right away? Bates assured Garfield that he did not have to resign until he took his seat in Congress, guaranteeing Garfield several months more active service in the Union army. This allowed Garfield to continue gaining invaluable experience and to help orchestrate and take part in the Tullahoma Campaign and to play an important role in the midst of the maelstrom of war that was the Battle of Chickamauga.  

Even in late 1863, Garfield still had qualms about leaving the army. In a meeting with President Lincoln, Garfield expressed his reservations over resigning his position to serve in Congress. Lincoln encouraged Garfield to take his congressional seat, telling the young Ohioan that he needed congressmen "who know the wants of the army from practical knowledge."

With the advice of the president and his past promises in mind, Garfield resigned from the army 152 years ago today. He was taking the same enthusiasm for the war which he had displayed in the army and transforming it into his congressional career. He would no longer fight as an army officer; now, he would fight as a congressman.

Beyond his conflicted feelings about leaving the army, Garfield entered into Congress in a moment of great personal grief. On December 1, his first-born child Eliza died in Ohio. Nicknamed "Trot" after a character in a Charles Dickens novel, Eliza was born on the eve of the war in July 1860. Garfield's letters home throughout the war frequently spoke of her, asking his wife Lucretia to "kiss Trot" for him.

Just days after Eliza's funeral, Garfield found himself in Washington, leaving the “wild life of the army” behind, as he described his military experiences in a letter to his wife Lucretia. He was about to embark on a new and entirely different endeavor, one which would eventually lead him to the White House.

Friday, December 4, 2015

James Garfield in Civil War Washington

Wanted to share the video from a talk I did last month. This was my keynote talk at the James Garfield Symposium at Lakeland Community College, sponsored by the Friends of the James Garfield National Historic Site. The symposium's topic was Garfield in Washington.

While most of the talks focused on Garfield as a Congressman and President, I instead focused on Garfield's introduction to Washington during the Civil War. His time in the capital while he was still in the army aided him in making political connections and emerging on the national political scene in the midst of some of the most harrowing times in American history.

The video is courtesy of Lakeland Community College, which filmed the program for their youtube and television channels.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving 1881

Because of his tragically short presidency, there were many things which James Garfield did not have the opportunity to do as President of the United States. One of those was to declare a national day of thanksgiving. This was a long standing tradition in American history, but it had been formalized into an annual event ever since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln called for the fourth Thursday in November to be a day of giving thanks. In the years before Garfield's presidency, the president had issued a proclamation in October or November declaring a day of Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, by that point in 1881, Garfield had died of wounds from his assassination.

Thus, it was up to Garfield's successor, the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, to issue a proclamation of Thanksgiving that year. On November 4, 1881, Arthur issued the following proclamation, declaring November 24, 1881, 134 years ago today, to be a day of thanksgiving for the nation, just over two months after Garfield's death.

By the President of the United States of America 
A Proclamation 

It has long been the pious custom of our people, with the closing of the year, to look back upon the blessings brought to them in the changing course of the seasons and to return solemn thanks to the all giving source from whom they flow. And although at this period, when the failing leaf admonishes us that the time of our sacred duty is at hand, our nation still lies in the shadow of a great bereavement, and the mourning which has filled our hearts still finds its sorrowful expression toward the God before whom we but lately bowed in grief and supplication, yet the countless benefits which have showered upon us during the past twelvemonth call for our fervent gratitude and make it fitting that we should rejoice with thankfulness that the Lord in His infinite mercy has most signally favored our country and our people. Peace without and prosperity within have been vouchsafed to us, no pestilence has visited our shores, the abundant privileges of freedom which our fathers left us in their wisdom are still our increasing heritage; and if in parts of our vast domain sore affliction has visited our brethren in their forest homes, yet even this calamity has been tempered and in a manner sanctified by the generous compassion for the sufferers which has been called forth throughout our land. For all these things it is meet that the voice of the nation should go up to God in devout homage.

Wherefore I, Chester A. Arthur, President of the United States, do recommend that all the people observe Thursday, the 24th day of November instant, as a day of national thanksgiving and prayer, by ceasing, so far as may be, from their secular labors and meeting in their several places of worship, there to join in ascribing honor and praise to Almighty God, whose goodness has been so manifest in our history and in our lives, and offering earnest prayers that His bounties may continue to us and to our children.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 4th day of November, A.D. 1881, and of the Independence of the United States the one hundred and sixth.

President of the United States

Secretary of State

Monday, November 16, 2015

Garfield Interview

Wanted to share an interview I did with the folks at the Mentor Channel in Mentor, Ohio, the home of the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. I did a talk and book signing there last week, and Ante Logarusic stopped by before hand to do a short interview on the book.

Monday, November 2, 2015

James Garfield and the Civil War--Now Available!!

November 2, 1880 was an important day in American history. Across the United States, the final votes were being cast to determine who would become the 20th President of the United States. James Abram Garfield, a longtime member of the United States House of Representatives and a former Major General in the Union army, was the Republican candidate, while Winfield Scott Hancock, himself a former Major General as well, was the Democratic nominee. Over 9 million votes were cast for president that year, representing 78% of the eligible electorate, the highest number of voters to turnout up to that time in American history. Once all the votes were finally tabulated, James Garfield of Ohio was the victor.

Garfield spent that day at his farm in Mentor, Ohio, greeting well wishers and handling his daily business of overseeing his farm. That night, he was in the small campaign office behind his home, receiving updates on the polls from across the country. When he retired for the evening at 3 a.m., Garfield had heard good news regarding the results of voting in the Northern states. By the morning of November 3, Garfield knew for certain that he had been elected President of the United States.

Garfield's election to the presidency was the crowning achievement of his life. Unfortunately, his grand story of rising from poverty and a log cabin all the way to the White House is marred by its tragic ending. Nine months to the day after his election, President Garfield was shot twice in a train station in Washington, DC on July 2, 1881. One bullet hit his arm, and the other lodged in his back. He did not die from his wounds right away. Instead, he suffered immensely for several months while doctors did everything within their power to treat him and remove the assassin's bullet from his back. Ultimately, their efforts were unsuccessful, only augmenting the infection and effects of his wound. On September 19, 1881, Garfield succumbed to his wounds, making him the second president to die from assassination.

While these events are no doubt historic and important, they often overshadow other parts of Garfield's life and legacy. Eighteen years to the day before his death, Garfield was a general in the Union army, serving as the Chief of Staff for the Army of the Cumberland at the Battle of Chickamauga, one of the great battles of the American Civil War. Garfield's Civil War service, at Chickamauga and elsewhere, is often a footnote in his life story. Far from a small piece of his story, Garfield's Civil War career was essential to who he was and to his rise to the presidency.

I am pleased to announce that today, on the 135th anniversary of Garfield's election to the presidency, my new book James Garfield and the Civil War: For Ohio and the Union is now available. Today is the official publication date for the book, and in it, I hope to tell a part of James Garfield's story which has languished in obscurity for far too long. The book is not an exhaustive look at Garfield's life on a day by day basis, but rather, it tells the story of his Civil War career, placing the future president in the larger events of the war from 1861 to 1865, focusing on his service in recruiting the 42nd Ohio, commanding troops in the field in Kentucky and Tennessee, taking part in political fights in Washington, serving as the Chief of Staff for the Army of the Cumberland in 1863, and ultimately taking his strong views about preserving the Union and abolishing slavery to the halls of Congress. Garfield's Civil War service saw him take part in several of the grand campaigns and battles of the war. He crossed paths with leading figures like Don Carlos Buell, William Rosecrans, George Thomas, Edwin Stanton, Salmon Chase, and Henry Halleck. Along the way, Garfield made friends and enemies, and he experienced his share of highs and lows during the war. Like all veterans, his Civil War service lingered with him through the rest of his days. Even when he was the Republican nominee for president, many still knew him first and foremost as "General Garfield."

I hope you enjoy the book! I will be doing several book talks and signings in Northeast Ohio this upcoming weekend and next week. If you are in the area, I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Talks November 2015

With the publication date for James Garfield and the Civil War: For Ohio and the Union coming next week (November 2, 2015), I wanted to post some information about talks and book signings that I will be doing in the Cleveland area in the second week of November.

These talks are all focused on the new book and the story of James Garfield's Civil War career. I hope to have copies of both the Garfield book and my book on Kennesaw Mountain available at each place. Follow the links for more information, or send me a message through the blog.

Saturday, November 7th:

James Garfield Symposium 2015: Garfield in Washington, Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, Ohio

Keynote Speaker and Book Signing

Sponsored by the James A. Garfield National Historic Site and the Friends of the James A. Garfield National Historic Site.

Sunday, November 8th:

James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Mentor, Ohio, 2 PM

Author Talk and Book Signing

Monday, November 9th:

Reed Memorial Library, Ravenna, Ohio, 2 PM

Author Talk and Book Signing

Tuesday, November 10th:

Mac's Back-Books, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 7 PM

Author Talk and Book Signing

Wednesday, November 11th:

Lorain Community College, Elyria, Ohio, 7 PM

Part of the ongoing 1865: Appomattox and Beyond, the Legacy of the Civil War Lecture Series

Author Talk and Book Signing

Hope to see you in Ohio!