Brooks D. Simpson Profile picture
Historian ... Islanders/Yankees fan. Posts represent my views, not those of my employer. RT implies nothing. Trolls may be blocked/muted. Also on P/M/T/B.
Gus Rousonelos Profile picture 1 subscribed
Apr 10 10 tweets 5 min read
Yesterday I shared with you various images of the events in Wilmer McLean's parlor on April 9, 1865.

Today I plan to share a few more images that shape our memory of what happened that day ... and April 10, 1865 as well.

Grant and Lee met a second time this day in 1865. These images fall into three categories.

First, there are images of an imagined surrender conference outside that draw upon talk of an apple tree at Appomattox.

Second, there's Lee's departure from the McLean House.

Third, there's the April 10 meeting.
Apr 9 21 tweets 7 min read
Visual portrayals of what happened in Wilmer McLean's parlor on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House are worth some study.

Here's a simple early version: two generals, one table. Image The table is a curious effort to bring together elements of the two tables involved in the event. Grant said at a brown wood oval table; Lee sat at a squarish marble table. Grant's chair was a swivel desk chair backed in leather, while Lee sat in a high-backed chair.
Apr 9 5 tweets 1 min read
As true Americans commemorate the anniversary of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox, let's recall that the events of April 9 marked an end to one of the most successful pursuits in military history ... one that is often underappreciated. In some sixteen days the US forces under Grant's command repulsed a breakout attempt, severed Confederate supply lines and railroads, forced the evacuation of Petersburg and the the Confederate capital at Richmond.

That's for starters.
Apr 8 23 tweets 5 min read
Tomorrow is the anniversary of Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.

Most of us recall the generous terms Grant offered Lee, which stood in contrast to his reputation as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

But what about Lee? After all, on April 6, at the battle of Sailor's Creek, Lee watched as his army crumbled under US attacks. "My God, has the army dissolved?" Lee declared in desperation.

Lee was in dire straits.
Apr 8 19 tweets 4 min read
A few notes on Ulysses S. Grant's personal involvement with the institution of slavery prior to the American Civil War for those who might be interested ... Grant grew up in an antislavery home. As a boy his father had worked in a tannery owned by Owen Brown, who had a son named John. I bet you've heard of him.

As a boy Grant attended a preparatory school in Ripley, Ohio, run by Reverend John Rankin.
Dec 30, 2023 23 tweets 4 min read
What stake did non-slaveholding southern whites have in the protection and preservation of slavery? Why would they support secession? Why would they go to war?

Reasonable questions. First, not all white southerners supported the Confederacy. There were Unionists. There were also deserters.

The Confederacy had to resort to conscription in 1862 to recruit its ranks. Even Lee complained about desertion and questioned the commitment of Confederate civilians.
Dec 30, 2023 10 tweets 2 min read
In 1865, with the US Army choking Richmond and marching its way through the Deep South unopposed, Jefferson Davis rejected proposals for peace that meant the end of Confederate independence and slavery.

The blood of the spring of 1865 was on his hands. After all, look at the situation at the time.

Sherman marching through Georgia and the Carolinas ... and David did nothing to stop that destructive path of war.

Grant having cornered Lee, who would have to abandon Richmond if he wanted to survive.
Dec 30, 2023 25 tweets 4 min read
What was the Crittenden Compromise? What did it entail? Was it truly a compromise settlement, or a series of concessions to southerners to prevent secession?

Why did Lincoln oppose it? What did Jefferson Davis say about it? What was it impact on the secession movement? The Crittenden Compromise was a series of proposals offered by Kentucky Senator John C. Crittenden on December 18, 1860.

There were six proposed constitutional amendments and four resolutions in Crittenden's package of proposals.
Sep 15, 2023 24 tweets 4 min read
The origins of section three of the Fourteenth Amendment, a constitutional clause currently under discussion, is worth remembering.

The clause now being cited to prohibit Donald Trump from returning as president originated during Reconstruction. In 1865 Andrew Johnson issued a series of proclamations looking to reestablish civil government in the former Confederate states and to frame an amnesty policy for Confederates ... although the latter also used the term pardon.
Jul 20, 2023 15 tweets 2 min read
It has become tiresome to deal with those people on the far right who like to claim that Republicans ended slavery while the Democrats founded the KKK ... as if we should then say that this says anything meaningful about the parties today.

It doesn't. First, while Republicans helped end slavery, they didn't do it on their own, and the primary reason slavery ended was because the Civil War did much to destroy it.


Yes, the vast majority of Democrats at the time were not interested in ending slavery. That's a fact.
Jun 12, 2023 26 tweets 4 min read
Today I want to say a few things about Ulysses S. Grant's decision to cross the James, a move sometimes as misunderstood as it was brilliant. First, we might want to set aside the notion that Grant's decision to cross the James was conceived in a moment of inspiration after the defeat at Cold Harbor.

Grant was far more open-minded and flexible than that.
Jun 12, 2023 19 tweets 3 min read
I see where my post on the removal of the Philip Schuyler statue from a traffic circle in Albany has attracted the usual suspects, none of whom are careful readers (I'm being very kind as to their capacity to understand any argument).

So let's review a few points. First, as any reader of my blog knows, I did not lead the charge for the removal of Confederate monuments, nor did I participate in the first wave of that movement.

Few historians did, and most who did came aboard once the movement was well underway.
Jun 6, 2023 25 tweets 4 min read
Today's lesson in writing history should serve as a warning in many ways.

In 2017 Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses S. Grant appeared. It was much anticipated, especially given the fame Chernow had earned when his biography of Alexander Hamilton brought him great attention. As is usually the case, folks interviewed Chernow and some close friends on the eve of the publication of his new biography. It's part of the cult of the biographer, after all. It's good PR.

One comment understandably annoyed me. It appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Jun 5, 2023 14 tweets 2 min read
We've had a resurgence in chatter about the Corwin Amendment, the "original Thirteenth Amendment."

It's a document that is often cited without being read or understood.

Let's take a look.

First, the wording of the amendment: "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or services by the laws of said State."
Jun 5, 2023 20 tweets 3 min read
People who find it difficult if not impossible to engage in argument over the interpretation of the Constitution seem to think that a smart evasive manueuver is to make a simple demand that you read X ... ... with the assumption, I presume, that if you simply read X you'll see things as they do.

That's a highly ineffective retort, one that demonstrates a lack of logic and an inability to interpret or understand very much.
Jun 3, 2023 4 tweets 1 min read
Let's remember that secession and war presented to Lincoln the opportunity to strike at slavery.

It was nearly five years to the day from South Carolina's secession to the promulgation of the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. Over those five years, Lincoln offered solutions and framed policies, aware of time, context, political realities, public opinion, and both institutional and constitutional restraints.

Not everything worked.

But in five years the institution of American slavery was destroyed.
Jun 2, 2023 5 tweets 1 min read
It's amazing how Confederate cosplayers who rail about "faux historians" (meaning anyone who doesn't follow their white supremacist romance with the Confederacy and the Lost Cause) frequently demonstrate how incompetent they are when discussing the historical record. I find most amusing their arrogant smugness in declaring the vindication of their views when nothing could be further from the truth.

Their neverending ranting about "activists" (meaning anyone who doesn't share their views) brings forth giggles and guffaws.
Jun 1, 2023 6 tweets 2 min read
So @kyledubas's signing to head hockey operations with the @penguins is quite suggestive as to what went down in #LeafsForever land.

There may have been financial issues. There may have been family issues. Most of all, however, were issues of control and autonomy. My speculation is that Dubas found himself taking responsibility (and pressure) for decisions he was not alone in making (and that were subject to veto). If everyone was going to hold him accountable for those decisions, he wanted those decisions to be his.
Jun 1, 2023 4 tweets 1 min read
I sometimes think that Civil War military historians' greatest shortcoming is an inability to think outside of the box ... and a failure to understand the interplay between home front and battle front in defining victory and defeat.

It's always the same old stuff. When it comes to generalship, all too often studies concentrate on individuals, overlooking the team nature of command and the problems associated with implementing plans of battle.

Staff work? Communications? Terrain? What one can (and cannot) see? Implicit assumptions?
Jun 1, 2023 4 tweets 2 min read
With the annoucement that the #Isles will be playing a Stadium Series game next year (I am soooo tempted ...) comes the realization that there will have to be a new sweater design.

And we know what that means for Isles fans. Some folks should be happy: the return of the Fisherman this year should mean no Fisherman next year.

That said, the continued neglect of the lighthouse secondary logo is a shame.

As the home team, the #Isles should be wearing a blue or orange sweater. Yes, orange.
Apr 13, 2023 27 tweets 5 min read
We are days away from the first round of the #StanleyCupPlayoffs. In many ways the first round is the one that is special and different. All that breaking news ... all those updates ... all those upsets.

Today is the anniversary of my favorite first round day ... in 1982. In those days the first round was a best of 5 round, and on April 13, 1982, there were three such games to be played to finish that first round.

Each of the three series had come down to deciding games with the three best teams in the league playing at home.