Many thanks to Sam Falk and all the folks at the Millbrook Literary Festival who invited me to participate at yesterday’s event. It was a beautiful day, I met a lot of interesting people, I sold a lot of books, and I got to participate in a lively panel hosted by Shaun Boyce, and featuring me and my fellow history book writers, John and Richard Polhemus, authors of Stark: The Life and Wars of John Stark, and Jack Kelly, author of book Band of Giants, All in all, I had a terrific time. (Above from left: Richard Polhemus, Falk, me, Boyce.)
Thanks to a choice George Washington once made to locate his headquarters there, Morristown, New Jersey, is far more widely associated with the American Revolution than the Civil War. Still, about sixty members of the North Jersey Civil War Round Table showed up the at Frelinghuysen Arboretum (a magnificent estate that appears to have been about two warm weeks short of spectacular) to hear my talk about Will Cushing. They were a great group, friendly and knowledgable, and an enjoyable time was had by all. Thanks to Rich Rosenthal for inviting me, and for an excellent dinner at the very classy Rod’s Steakhouse.
Last night the Push the Cush tour visited the West Point chapter of the Company of Military Historians, at the West Point Museum. Thanks for the hospitality–I very much enjoyed meeting everyone, and telling Will Cushing‘s story. Thanks particularly to Paul Martin, for recommending me. At the far right of this picture, one can see a display honoring Alonzo Cushing, featuring the Medal of Honor he earned at Gettysburg that was presented to him last November.
I remember years ago standing at the counter at Borders in White Plains, and seeing a flyer for an event called Spoken Interludes, where writers would come and read from the latest work. I always thought that being asked to participate would hit the heights. Well, last night, at the Riverfront in Hastings-on-Hudson, the dream came true. The delightful, delovely, Delaune Michel, the accomplished novelist who dreamed up Spoken Interludes and who runs it here and in Los Angeles, asked me to participate in a group that includes the debonair Blake Bailey, who read from his memoir The Splendid Things We Planned, and Ann Packer, who read from her brand new novel The Children’s Crusade. Commander Will Cushing was in very good company. The crowd was interested and focused and asked a lot of questions, my old pal Jim Meigs and his wife Jenni were on hand, and I got to meet the novelist Ann Hood and the food writer Michael Ruhlman. What a treat.
It’s becoming clear that the internet is taking on the role of the catalog of America’s collective attic. Cruising around last night, I found this item from a 2011 sponsored by Cowan’s auction house: a second national Confederate flag, approximately 4.5 feet by 10 feet. Accompanying the flag was a notarized letter of provenance dated January 26, 2010 stating that the flag was originally acquired by our consignor directly from the estate of Marie Louise Cushing (December 1, 1871-April 23, 1960), sole surviving daughter of Commander William B. Cushing, at a house hold sale conducted at the Cushing residence, 23 Forest Place, Fredonia, New York in 1960. One wonders if this is the same flag that is mentioned in my book: “Cushing celebrated the Union victory in Fredonia. The night that Richmond fell, April 3rd, a crowd that had already been saluting the news at the Concert Hall in town marched on Mary Cushing’s house. In response to their jubilant, insistent serenade, the resident hero stepped onto the porch and added some brief remarks to the patriotic clamor. “Three cheers for the old flag!” he ended, then joined the throng, which boisterously paraded to the Johnson House hotel, where everyone capped the glorious evening with a late supper. Cushing, his mother and his sister were honored with seats at the head table. The victory party lasted all night, the celebrants making a fair bid to exorcise four years’ worth of woe and worry with one great shebang. Outside the hotel, Fredonians took the rebel flag that Cushing had captured in Fort Caswell in January, spread it on the street, and took turns tramping on it. At first light the rebel rag was found flying upside over the courthouse, beneath a glorious Stars and Stripes.”
I had a great time on Sunday speaking about Commander Will at the Scarsdale Library. We had a terrific crowd, very attentive and receptive. Many thanks to Claudette Gaffney for arranging the event and publicizing, and to her staff for the thoughtful decorations and refreshments. It was great fun–I couldn’t think of a better way to spend an “almost spring day.”
Here is the talk I gave at the Naval Academy.
I was seriously chuffed, as my English friends say, to be invited to talk about Will Cushing at my alma mater, La Salle University in Philadelphia last Thursday. When I was an
undergraduate there, it was a mere college plopped onto three street corners; now it a big sprawling plant, with something like 10,000 students. It was a great thrill that two of the best teachers I ever had, Dr. Michael Dillon and Brother Edward Sheehy (above left,) showed up for the talk. Many thanks to those who attended, and especially to Professor Miguel Glatzer of the Political Science Department (above right), who was an excellent host and a congenial lunch companion. It was great to be able to go back home.
I had a great time last Wednesday, when I delivered a talk on CommanderWill Cushing at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis as part of the Shifley Lecture series. A crowd of perhaps 50 or so, divided among midshipmen, officers and civilians attended, and I hope they enjoyed the talk at least half as much as I did, because I thought it went exceptionally well. Before and after, I got to talk with Mr. James Cheevers, the head curator of the museum. He had an incredible number of stories which he relayed in impressive detail. Thanks again to Mr. Claude Berube, the director of the museum, and to his staff for inviting me and showing me such hospitality. Pictures: Top, Mr. Cheevers and me in front of the Tripoli Monument; left, me, emerging from the head of a silhouetted midshipman; right, my host, Mr. Berube, telling me about his favorite scenes from Pentagon Wars.