Mckinley, Murder and the Pan-American Exposition

Mckinley Murder and the Pan-American ExpositionOn September 6, 1901, President William McKinley held a public reception at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. In the receiving line, holding a gun concealed by a handkerchief, was Leon Czolgosz, a young man with anarchist leanings. When he reached McKinley, Czolgosz fired two shots, one of which would prove fatal. The backdrop of the assassination was among the largest of many world’s fairs held in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Exposition celebrated American progress, highlighting the new technology electricity. Over 100,000 light bulbs outlined the Exposition’s building–on display inside were the latest inventions utilizing the new power source. This new treatment of the McKinley assassination is the first to focus on the compelling story of the Exposition: its labor and construction challenges; the garish Midway; the fight for inclusion of an accurate African-American display to offset racist elements of the Midway; and the impressive exhibit halls.

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Johnson’s Island: A Prison for Confederate Officers

Johnson s Island A Prison for Confederate Officers In 1861, Lt. Col. William Hoffman was appointed to the post of commissary general of prisoners and urged to find a suitable site for the construction of what was expected to be the Union’s sole military prison. After inspecting four islands in Lake Erie, Hoffman came upon one in Sandusky Bay known as Johnson’s Island. With a large amount of fallen timber, forty acres of cleared land, and its proximity to Sandusky, Ohio, Johnson’s Island seemed the ideal location for the Union’s purpose. By the following spring, Johnson’s Island prison was born.

Johnson’s Island tells the story of the camp from its planning stages until the end of the war. Because the facility housed only officers, several literate diary keepers were on hand; author Roger Pickenpaugh draws on their accounts, along with prison records, to provide a fascinating depiction of day-to-day life. Hunger, boredom, harsh conditions, and few luxuries were all the prisoners knew until the end of the war, when at last parts of Johnson’s Island were auctioned off, the post was ordered abandoned, and the island was mustered out of service.

There has not been a book dedicated to Johnson’s Island since 1965. Roger Pickenpaugh presents an eloquent and knowledgeable overview of a prison that played a tremendous role in the lives of countless soldiers. It is a book sure to interest Civil War buffs and scholars alike.


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Captives in Blue: The Civil War Prisons of the Confederacy

Captives in Blue: The Civil War Prisons of the Confederacy

From Amazon: “Captives in Blue, a study of Union prisoners in Confederate prisons, is a companion to Roger Pickenpaugh’s earlier groundbreaking book Captives in Gray: The Civil War Prisons of the Union, rounding out his examination of Civil War prisoner of war facilities.

In June of 1861, only a few weeks after the first shots at Fort Sumter ignited the Civil War, Union prisoners of war began to arrive in Southern prisons. One hundred and fifty years later Civil War prisons and the way prisoners of war were treated remain contentious topics. Partisans of each side continue to vilify the other for POW maltreatment. Roger Pickenpaugh’s two studies of Civil War prisoners of war facilities complement one another and offer a thoughtful exploration of issues that captives taken from both sides of the Civil War faced.

In Captives in Blue, Pickenpaugh tackles issues such as the ways the Confederate Army contended with the growing prison population, the variations in the policies and practices inthe different Confederate prison camps, the effects these policies and practices had on Union prisoners, and the logistics of prisoner exchanges. Digging further into prison policy and practices, Pickenpaugh explores conditions that arose from conscious government policy decisions and conditions that were the product of local officials or unique local situations. One issue unique to Captives in Blue is the way Confederate prisons and policies dealt with African American Union soldiers. Black soldiers held captive in Confederate prisons faced uncertain fates; many former slaves were returned to their former owners, while others were tortured in the camps. Drawing on prisoner diaries, Pickenpaugh provides compelling first-person accounts of life in prison camps often overlooked by scholars in the field.”

Review “Captives in Blue is an excellent book that more thoroughly details life in Confederate-run prisons than anything currently available. I think it will stand as the starting place for all future studies of Southern prisoner of war facilities for a long time.”
—James M. Gillispie, author of Andersonvilles of the North: The Myths and Realities of Northern Treatment of Civil War Confederate Prisoners and Cape Fear Confederates: The 18th North Carolina Regiment in the Civil War

About the Author Roger Pickenpaugh is the author of many books on Civil War history, including Camp Chase and the Evolution of Union Prison Policy and Captives in Gray: The Civil War Prisons of the Union.

Noble County, Ohio: A History

“Founded in 1851, Noble County is Ohio’s youngest county.  Yet despite its youth, Noble has a rich history.  In this book, Roger Pickenpaugh details that heritage, from pioneer days to the present.  The book is based largely on the L. H. Watkins 1887 history and Pickenpaugh’s 1988 work.  However, there are also previously unrecorded episodes from the county’s past based on research into neighboring counties’ newspapers and at numerous archives.”

Carpathia – A Biography of the Titanic’s Rescue Ship

“On April 14, 1912, the luxury liner Titanic sank in the North Atlantic, taking over 1,500 souls with it. More would have died had it not been for the quick actions taken by Capt. Arthur Rostron of the Cunard liner Carpathia. As a result of those actions, 705 were saved.

This is the story of that fateful night. It is also, however, a complete biography of the Carpathia, from constructions to sinking. Included are the chapters on Carpathia‘s role in bringing immigrants to the United States, its career as an early cruise ship, and its service as a troop transport during World War I.”

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Captives in Gray: The Civil War Prisons of the Union

“This is a vivid description of conditions and events rarely described: the imprisonment of captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War…”

Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States

Winner of the 2010 James I. Robertson Jr. Literary Prize, sponsored by the Robert E. Lee Civil War Library and Research Center


Contemporary reports from prisoners and witnesses humanize the grim realities of the POW camps.

Perhaps no topic is more heated, and the sources more tendentious, than that of Civil War prisons and the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs). Partisans of each side, then and now, have vilified the other for maltreatment of their POWs, while seeking to excuse their own distressing record of prisoner of war camp mismanagement, brutality, and incompetence. It is only recently that historians have turned their attention to this contentious topic in an attempt to sort the wheat of truth from the chaff of partisan rancor.

Roger Pickenpaugh has previously studied a Union prison camp in careful detail (Camp Chase) and now turns his attention to the Union record in its entirety, to investigate variations between camps and overall prison policy and to determine as nearly as possible what actually happened in the admittedly over-crowded, under-supplied, and poorly-administered camps. He also attempts to determine what conditions resulted from conscious government policy or were the product of local officials and situations.

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“This is a vivid description of conditions and events rarely described: the imprisonment of captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Its many parallels to circumstances in Andersonville are especially intriguing.”

—Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States

“Mr. Pickenpaugh provides an examination of the development of the exchange system, its eventual collapse, and the relationship between the system and the development of the Federal prison system. He also documents how the Federal approach to administering these prisons changed as time passed from an arrangement between noble warriors to one of retaliatory punishment and the impact on the prisoners, the overall outcome of these policies, and their legacies as remembered by those affected by them.”

—Roger S. Durham, Director, Army Heritage Museum, Carlisle Barracks, PA

“An ambitious examination of almost all Union military prisons, [which] . . . addresses a specific historical category that has, to my knowledge, not yet been treated.”

—William Marvel, author of Lee’s Last Retreat: The Flight to Appomattox and Andersonville: The Last Depot

Product Details
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: University Alabama Press; 1 edition (March 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0817316523
ISBN-13: 978-0817316525
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

Camp Chase and the Evolution of Union Prison Policy

Camp ChaseThis is an important yet often misunderstood topic in American History. Camp Chase was a major Union POW camp and also served at various times as a Union military training facility and as quarters for Union soldiers who had been taken prisoner by the Confederacy and released on parole or exchanged. As such, a careful, thorough, and objective examination of the history and administration of the camp will be of true significance in the literature on the Civil War.

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Product Details

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: University Alabama Press; 1 edition (November 28, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0817315829
ISBN-13: 978-0817315825
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces

Rescue by Rail: Troop Transfer and the Civil War in the West, 1863

Pickenpaugh, the best sort of amateur historian, combines academic thoroughness and journalistic clarity, merging Civil War and railroad history in highly readable fashion. He describes the movement of the XI and XII Corps of the Union’s Army of the Potomac from Virginia to Tennessee in the fall of 1863 to help lift the siege of Chattanooga. He covers the prewar history of all the railroads involved, their ordeals during the war (nobody could have convinced a Union railway operator that Confederate cavalry raiders were “marginal” combatants), and the achievements in organization, planning, and logistics required for the movement. Contributors to those achievements included Secretary of War Stanton, General Grant, the corps and division commanders, dozens of railroad personnel, and thousands of individual soldiers, whose accounts of everything from accidents to lavish feasts laid out for them by towns on their way are extensively quoted. The narrative also includes a contrasting account of the ordeal of Longstreet’s corps, traveling over the Confederate rails to Chickamauga.

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Product Description

Between 23 and 25 September 1863 the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps of the Army of the Potomac were sent across the Appalachians to strengthen Union troops in the struggle for supremacy in Eastern Tennessee. The Battle of Chickamauga—a Confederate victory that just missed being a complete Federal rout—had ended, exhausting both armies and leaving Union troops perilously bottled up in Chattanooga. Upon the prodding of newspaperman Charles Dana, who was on the scene, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton resolved to provide Union commander General William Rosecrans with reinforcements sufficient to hold that key town. After a late-night meeting with Lincoln and other cabinet members, Stanton’s proposal to send more than twenty thousand men to Chattanooga by rail within a week was adopted.

This is the story of that first great Federal troop movement by rail and of the corresponding Confederate transfer of General James Longstreet’s troops a few weeks previously. The contrast between the two operations points up the Union advantages in technology, infrastructure, and mobility that would offset the Confederate advantage of interior lines.

Product Details

Hardcover: 244 pages
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; 1st Ed. edition (August 1, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0803237200
ISBN-13: 978-0803237209
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

The Night of the Wicked Winds

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Product Description

On April 11, 1965, an outbreak of 37 tornadoes hit six Midwestern states. The Palm Sunday Tornadoes left 259 people dead, thousands injured, and caused tens of millions of dollars in damaged or destroyed property. One of the hardest hit areas was northern Ohio. There nine significant tornadoes, many of F4 or F5 intensity, resulted in 59 deaths and a number of devastated communities.

The Night of the Wicked Winds tells the story of the Ohio storms. Based on over 150 interviews and contemporary newspaper accounts, it recounts the tales of people in the path of nature’s most devastating storms.

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Product Details

Publisher: Gateway Press (2003)