On 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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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.
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.
“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.”
“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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