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tv   Imperfect Union  CSPAN  December 31, 2016 8:00am-9:01am EST

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that's sounding like a time. anyone else? well, thank you so much. i really appreciate it. thank you. [applause]. ..
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>> that's just a few the programs you will see on booktv this weekend. for a complete television schedule go to now we kick off this holiday weekend with chuck raasch, author of "imperfec "imperfect a father's search for his son in the aftermath of the battle of gettysburg." >> good evening, everyone. good evening.
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welcome to the national press club. my name is thomas burr, the washington correspondent for "the salt lake tribune" and the 1009th president of the national press club. our guest today is chuck rasch, the chief correspondent for the "st. louis post-dispatch" and the author of "imperfect union: a father's search for his son in the aftermath of the battle of gettysburg." want to welcome our guests and live audience today as bothe c-span booktv. in this new book chuck explores one gettysburg his most famous stories, that of the father, a journalist searching for soldiers on in the haze of the battle.s also touching on the journals of the practice of the day, the overarching thoughts about the ultimate sacrifice or the full measure of devotion. in the famous documentarian press club member ken burns said of trannine, an important book come when the condensed milk ane aerial and intimate view of the human cost of the greatest battle ever fought in north america. chuck was one of the five original long form writers of "usa today" when it began in
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1982. and served as national correspondent for connect neww service for 25 years. a graduate of south dakota state, he completed a fellowship at stanford and is a proud member of the national press club. we will have chuck tell us about his book and then switch tout questions for a while. chuck, the book is "imperfect union." tell us about it. >> this is great and it's enough a lot of interfaces and i anticipate the questions coming down the road. i will say that i hope you would hold judgment on this afterwards because as donald trump taught us last night you really should make snap judgments, so give me the whole hour, okay? >> will you concede after an hour? >> i might. i know at least one of my friends has to go play the packers. we will get out of here as soon as we can. i want to have fun tonight andnd into questions mainly. people as asked me about why i wrote this book and there's sors of two anecdotes that illustrated.
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one of which is an episode that if think you remember in contemporaneous situation, the pat tillman situation, the nfl player that went to war and was billed out as this year and this great sort of great american hero for going to afghanistan and can kill. it turns out later that the mythology that been built up around it was not necessarily the correct thing that happened. in fact, he most likely later, investigations found out, most likely was killed by his own men. so we got me thinking in that sphere of kind of this whole issue of, the idea of having to make mythology and mythologize people in war and while we had to do that, why we have to create heroes. i've been thinking about that for a number of years, and then in 2013 when i was working for "usa today" and actually considering whether not to take a buyout which is all too often
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one of the sad kind of commenters of the newspaper industry of our time, i was sent to gettysburg to cover the 10,050th anniversary of the battle and i thought this is kind of a boring assignment frankly because who the heck has not read about and written about gettysburg? everything you could possibly think, every general who ever thought there wrote a memoir about the battle. i kind of went up there not all that fired up about the assignment. a colleague and i were up there for two days and we spent two days reporting, talking to people, talking to public officials, talking to the head of the gettysburg national military park. we were on the second day and about ready to go home in the afternoon and we decided to make one last stop up at the very famous little round top which, frankly, is nothing to do with my book, but little round top, it was filled with tourists.
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a lot of buses had come in and there were kids, you could looky at invalid and you could see in the famous devils den kids playing in the rocks and the were these groups that were sort of rockets are taking pictures and not being very quiet even though all the guys were coming by saying this is reverent ground, let's student i noticed off to the corner of my eye there were two elderly, an elderly couple in the middle age turns out to be their son. they were the clark's from vermont and had come to the battle, battlefield with the diary of a private, myron clarke, who had been killed on the third day of the battle of gettysburg. he was an ancestor of theirs, a great, great whatever it is, three or four generations four e removed. they had his diary and they taste his final days and hours to the third day of the battle. they were just very quiet, very reverent, very studious about it. they were almost, i don't want
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to say over emotional, they stood out in the emotion that they had as opposed to just were the other tourists coming to commemorate a moment. i went over and i talk to themem and it turns out this damn had held this diary in very much pristine throughout the generations of the family.neratn they often speculated, passed back and forth between the two coasts of the country betweentwe generations of the country, and they often speculated, speculated, because this kid that had been killed was by all accounts a very promising young man. universally like, a lot of people thought he was going to go a long way in rhetoric or kind of the public service area of that era, peer it was just starting to be the -- apparently he was a really good speaker and well-liked in the company and like i said he was killed the third day of the battle. and so it struck me there that
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history, in particular history of these great events w would write about and read about in american history, it's not about some remote event 150 years ago. its history, the aftermath of war, is never ending. it never leaves. it never leaves families. and so with that sort of in mind, with those two events in mind, i kind of, i felt like there had to have been a bigger story.tory this story that's central to my book is about sam and byron wilkerson. they were very famous story. if you go to gettysburg now, there's a very prominent display about how bayard wilkeson who was a 19 -year-old lieutenant of the union army, the youngest artillery officer in the union army was a hero they want in gettysburg. his unit had been spent -- sent into a position by very controversial still debated
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tactical decision that was put forth by very controversial general. and the story, the myth around him is that he was, this kid, 19 years old who had but held the line just long enough for reinforcement of the union army to old cemetery ridge. from that position the union army was able to repel the next two days of assaults from general lee's basically held the union, the army together and byon implication, held the unionimplc together. it's my belief after researching this book, and their 909 footnotes hundred nine footnotes in this book so you will apologize if i look a little i weary. after researching this book it's my contention that what happened with this kid on the first day in the 2000 men that were near him on the battlefield was every bit as important as what happened two days later.
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because if they had not acted or gone into the breach the whole union army would've been rolled up and probably pushed back into either harrisburg, baltimore and washington. so from that point it became evident to me that it was, putting the two events together, the mythmaking that it come up contemporaneously around that one episode with pat tillman and how we were so quick to make him a hero and this guy, the story was that he aerobically led this counter charge that statement in afghanistan, and no doubt he did. but when you started peeling down the real story, it was not the myth that it been built up around him. so consequently i felt like it was the best, this was the best way to do because the story of these two people, the father who was a "new york times" correspondent, and his son, has been so mythologized.
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a very famous author, excuse me, an artist at the time was come had made this very heroic etching of him. if you look at history books an if you go to our museums you can see renditions of this, the depiction of its young man, 19, holding a sword standing standing up on barlow said no, he surrounded on three sides and they are coming in. and so i thought there would be a great back story to look and see how the mismatched reality.. i concluded to things. number one, the story that is told about how he was wounded and died which is a particularly gruesome story but it's held up as part of mythology of his heroism. he has it difficult to gettysburg and look on the wall he is said to have been shot to the leg in this thing, the cannibal went to his horse, killed his horse instantly, shot through his like andy self and begin to his leg and stayed on the battlefield.
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and still directed his men for 10 minutes before he is hauled off to the county poorhouse. that's what you read when you go up there. you can see the knife in which he is alleged to have cut his own leg off. i believe after my research and whatever that that didn't happen that way. i think it happen in a different way. so while it debunks the mythology that is around him and i think may cause little bit of heartache at the gettysburg national military park, i believe that the reality of the story of how he arrived on the battlefield, how he fought in the battlefield, and more so how we spent the next and final 10 hours of his life, frankly is more self-sacrificing, more heroic and more enduring to the permanent story than any myth that we could ever throw around him. it's not a particularly good story.
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it's not a comforting story, bu, it is i think a real story about what happens to people, people in war. the other thing that i thought was a good hook, sam wilkeson was a very famous "new yorkhi times" correspondent at the time and he was not only hook intomer journalism, he was hooked into a number of other areas of public life and he was a very staunch abolitionist. he had run for public office himself before becoming aelf beo journalist, as an abolitionist. he was married to the sister of a suffragan elizabeth cady stanton. s katie was somewhat -- he was a very public figure and he had been very, very outspoken about the need to win the war. he was what they called a bitter and her. he felt like there was a sacrifice that wasn't worth paying, including the life of
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one of his nephews whom he had to, whose body he had retrieve a year before gettysburg at the battle at seven pints after he'd been killed there. so he was on record in very decisive ways, no matter what sacrifice is, we need to win this war. suddenly he writes at the battlefield from the first day of gettysburg and is informed by several senior officers of his son that his son has been badly wounded, they think taken to the poor us on other side of the confederate lines. so the book is about his search for his boy in the aftermath of the battle, and the tens of thousands of people that camean from all over the country whose paths he crossed as the armies were pulling out, this army of mercy came in and hold balance of heroes heretofore unknown step forward, including african-americans who had beenn
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hunted, even freed, african-americans have been hunted who stepped forward to help in caring for 20,000 wounded men in the battlefield. when the two armies pulled out they left 200 surgeons to care for those men. you can imagine the kind of challenges that were there. so the story is about his search for his son but also kind of in that area. but i also felt like because such a prominent journalist at the time that he would've any good hook.en so the book is also about the rise of the war correspondent. this is the first major american war and really the second war effort -- where you had reporters embedded with armies in the battlefield. there were about 45 of the correspondence with both armies at gettysburg. so the story is kind of how they so were having to reinvent thisy profession and invent the
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profession of the war correspondent during a communications revolution, the telegraph which to me is every bit as impacting on that error of american history as the internet has been in our era. the correspondence called the telegraph the lighting. if you think about it, it took three weeks to get the news at the end of the battle of 1812, or the war of 1812 back to washington. sam wilkeson was filing instantaneously from the battlefield by the telegraph. so the book goes into all these characters, and they were characters. they ranged from very smug intellectuals to ex-cons that were not working for newspapers and gathering the news. they literally had to walk through valleys of death. one was killed at gettysburg.on there were several that were wounded. there was one correspondent embedded with the union navy who was shot 15 times during the war.
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the book also explores that area as well. on that note i have marked five short passages in the book that in particular i think you folks in the room that are in the business, even if you're not in the business, well kind ofin relate to. it shows how relatable history can be to the modern sort off construct of our lives. if you'll indulge me i promise i will not read too long, but the first one is an excerpt from this guy named charlie kaufman who was a very colorful, shall we say, reporter for the boston journal. he was fearless. he was really known for taking risks, and a lot of his other correspondence, fellow correspondence would chide him
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on how reckless he was in covering battles. after the battle of antietam, he writes the following, that was the bloodiest, the single day oe the war into writes about how a war correspondent went about his work.e i see his because as far as i know there was only a handful of women that were in that whole area of correspondence coming to work. here's charlie kaufman describing how to win about their business. it goes to the point of for journalist when everybody else is over, i work begins. he says quote, when the soldiers are seeking rest, the work of the army correspondent begins. all through the day eyes andd ears have been open. the notebook is scrawled with characters intelligible to him read it once, but wholly meaningless if you are later. i think every reporter in the room will understand that. he must grope his way along the
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lines in the darkness. visit the hospitals, here the notice of all, a limited air, of get at the probable truth, not truth, but probable truth. keeping ever in mind that each general thinks his brigade, each colonel thinks his regiment, every captain his company did most of the fighting.en and quote. and i picked that out because of the term probable truth, and i think it circles us back to pat tillman and kind of this whole idea of writing the first draft of history. tommy and i were talking earliel today about what lessons i learned. one of the lessons i learneded from it is that no story is ever finished. you need to keep coming back to the story. to me that's what this part, and that's what charlie paige told me in this. i think anybody in here who is ever covered war or covert conflict would understand this in that context.
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so that's the first. the second when actual is probably my favorite quote of the book and it's my favorite quote of all the research that it did, and it has to do with i think something everybody, every journalist in the room i knower what relate to this, expense accounts. even if you're not a journalist you relate to it.te to horace greeley was for a long time the boss of sam wilkeson at the "new york tribune" and really was, he was sort of the rupert murdoch/ted turner, whatever of his time. probably the most famous man in america other than abraham lincoln. but he also is running in enterprise newspapers that were losing money.. they were laying out a lot of money for these correspondence in the war. early in the war, greeley raise a ruckus over creative writing and expense account of a colleague named charlie page was
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another one of his characters. when greeley balked at payingen for some unusual expenses and indignant page wrote back to greeley that he got the news he paid for. quote, he says, early, early news is expensive news, mr. creely. m if i have watermelons and whiskey ready when offices, along from a fight, i get the news without asking questions. [laughter] now that to me, i'm going use the watermelons and whiskey line the next time i follow up a disputed expense report. the third passage is, this is my pants to editors all over. this is my way of saying the world can exist and still can't exist without editors. i don't care what's going on in our business, we need them. i read, this is about another character that was working for
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horace greeley. his name was charles, very well known, and, a very excellent editor and later on he and greeley had had a falling out over the war. this is a particularly interesting little episode at the beginning of the war when the reporters were still kind of green and feeling their way. at the tribune, focus and was one of many characters surrounding greeley. the papers managing editor itg would like sam if and to run into disagreement with the greeley over the course of the war was quick witted, ambitious and skeptical. he suffered no fool. early in the war a green correspondent have become a telegraphic dispatch of a battle with quote, this is honest to godgod, to god almighty be the glory, mine eyes have seen the work of the lord and the cause of the righteous have triumphed, and quote.
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charles dana shot back a one sentence telegraph response. quote, hereafter, he wrote, scar chasm dripping, quote and and cindy reports please specify the number of the him and say telegraph expenses. [laughter] so who wouldn't want to work with people like that, right? okay, let's see. we have a couple left and i appreciate your indulgence. this is my favorite reporters story, and anytime we get into a reporter/editor argument about who is more valuable to the process, which i think is probably an argument that willhi never get resolved, but at least it's fun to have, sam wilkeson during the wilderness of the peninsula campaign and a colleague by the name of thomas gunn, each of them almost died covering the campaign. they both i believe get dysentery and a least one of them and they be both are suffering from ptsd.
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thomas was so sick when i do decide you want to die in his d tent, and so, because he didn't want to bother his mates. he walks out of the tent and falls down into a mud puddle and almost drowned. a union army surgeon happens to come along and basically brings him back to life. so here's what happens after this episode. during the peninsula campaign and ensuing battles in the spring of 1862, gunn and wilkeson slept nearlyby-side side-by-side outdoors or in private homes commanded by union troops. the experiences of may 25, 1862 typify the situation. gunn had procured a bottle of whiskey which you share with officers who granted him interviews, keeping enough to try to soothe an ailing god but the horrific living conditions continue to take over the course of next week it would also twice be prescribed opium by union doctors treating
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his sears stomach pains and diarrhea. one night they shared a beaten up that end of the net down cabin procured as temporary headquarters for union brigadier general.he focus in an long ported -- quoted as a source this general. he interviewed officers. not so much the next day. the mattress they chit was so bad that in spite of my fatigue i tumbled and tossed considerably as wilkeson told in the morning, gunn said. here's what he gets good. after seven pines gunn became so ill that wilkeson ordered himm back to new york.orde he arrived a a train on june 5, 1862, looking like a walking skeleton in rags. i was god, wretchedly thin with a sunburn hollowed face, my hair long, hair long, he wrote. my hat without a band at whicheh it often fed my meal, my heavy coat threadbare and places and all stain from the rain, them
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earth and the residency guns against which i had lent. my waste coast was almost buttonless. my trousers tucked into rusty old boots and one thickness of the seat warm into rags from friction on the saddle. d we go on. listen, to make matters worse, his editors initially begin lambasting him about the access the rival harold was getting a bike implicating the stories the tribune was not getting.e during a dinner with several editors one of them told trantwo, who would almost died covering the war for his paper, that he admired the tax the "herald" hat and championing mccalla, those preparing preparing favors and facilities for its correspondent. in other words, you are getting beaten up even though you were dying you are getting beaten. so even pushing yourself to the threshold of deaths door to get the story was not enough to please editors in this hypercompetitive world as it were correspondent. one last one and then we can go to questions. quest
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there was, after, if i could find it here, here it is. people ask how could, in that aspect of life and in that era of the world, how could you send someone off to war?send som how could a mother since i sent off to war or a father sent a son off to war, or you know, know, these men march pell-mell into almost certain death in certain circumstances. the affirmation charlie kaufman who i spent about a week after gettysburg reporting on the battle was leaving gettysburg monitoring when he ran into one of the mothers, one of the many mothers who would come from far away. this one i believe was from new york who would come down to loow for her wounded son. i write for the north gettysburg was a vicar of such importance and cost after seeing to be no
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real earthly way to describe it. the expectations put upon the men who had fought were an instant and intimate. not long after leaving gettysburg, the boston journal, whose battle dispatches are compared to a shiny night ran into a mother whose son had been captured that year before and had been wounded at gettysburg. her boy had fought in 15fought i battles. she, like thousands of others, had rushed to the battlefield and there she was relayed to find he would survive. that she was more proud than relieved in what she had heard from her boys captain about how hard her soldier boy had thought. quote, i told him him when he went away that i would rather hear he was dead and that he had disgraced himself, the mother told kaufman. kaufman told the mother, and he was perplexed at that. he told the mother that he thought the boy had done his part. 15 battles and wounded, and that certainly she believed it was time for him to come home.
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no, the mother responded. her son had reenlisted even while lying wounded at gettysburggettysburg, and she wy about that. quote, i rather want him to help give the crushing blow, in quote, she she told kaufman. kaufman wrote there were thousands of such mothers in the land. into quote. so that's the reading. that's kind of wher why came frn writing this book. that's where i hope you will start and maybe fill in in your own reading. i don't want to give it all away obviously, but to me it was an important book to write in the context of what was going on in our own era in how we are treating war and how we treat things like ptsd. there are a number of characters in this book were clearly suffering from it, and it was not recognized or it wasn't afforded to them by their superiors or whatever. anyway, that's where we are spirit thank you very much, chuck. [applause]
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we have a lot to dive into. i want to get some ideas questions and will first startdt off with some amount to start with. i moist fascinated to see the t reactions of books. you've had several good reviewsc but what about -- >> i got an e-mail tuesday from a great, great, great, great grand nephew, sam wilkeson it was a history professor and said he liked the book. [laughter] >> there you go. spirit he also apologized for its families propensity to name all the people in the familyop either sam or john which when you read the book you realize it's very hard, there are john juniors and sam juniors. that was one of the tough things to do. you will also notice that my sons name was sam was was a coincidence. and also what was a coincidence was the young man petabyte about in the book, his birthday is my
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birthday. the same name but not the same birth year pdf. >> since we are here at the national press club by eminent treat to talk about the journalism side. travel is a mid-1800s hearses now looking at matthew brady with the 24/7 news cycle quick. >> there was that same reaction going on in the middle of the civil war brought the battle of antietam there was some very graphic after photos and it changed the conversation it did not allow them to distance themselves as much as a was going on about what impact that would have that is the same thing we have
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had on the internet what is journalism? so that aspect and that was also the technology of it. i do love into a chapter in the book of the amazing things that they try to get their stories out ahead of time to get them accurately and one correspondent commandeered 7 miles of telegraph lines and out of gettysburg. so there was a lot of focus on technology and how that would change journalism and been. >> to get that as accurately as the of probable truth because of their version of the truth been but i will say a number of these people
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were eyewitnesses sunday did have to depend upon other people about half a dozen others were on cemetery ridge actually one of almost was killed. >> q. are inactive journalist how did you write to misinform you or change any way how you freeport the first draft of history? >> it taught me that the story never ends it just continues said it would always circle back. if it made me appreciate the id at that the more you can authenticate back in to the original source is the better you can be. that want is more of a danger when we start repeating half of the truth
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or half of the lie that is the effect on the internet. i found a number of sites in going back to the original site with a different twist and a different take. that is how the mythology would build up. but anyone who serves in is a hero. >> can the introduction and
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to speculate all of this would've been just carnage. no matter which side you're on. so in that respect i think have to do that. there also is another aspect ofe this that we sort of stand in awe of people that would go int. that fire and sacrifice their lives for us, no matter who they were. i have to tell you, i got a new and different view of heroes in those moments in the research of this book. as i was telling someone earlier i believe there are more women characters in this book than there are men.he in particular there is a woman who was i believe a resident ofn the poorhouse who really did heroic things in aftermath of gettysburg. she risked her life doing it. to me that's not, to me the mythology should include that.
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the story should be how average people stepped into this absolute awful, the biggest human catastrophe, still is, that we've ever had on this continent of 20,000 wounded men and anywhere from 20, 30,000 people coming in from all over the country, some of them wandered the battlefield for days and never found their loved ones. >> wilkeson and his son eventually but he was filing stories from the battlefield while searching for his son spirit that's what attracted me to this. he was able to do this. and this dispatch is considered probably the best of the work of best battle dispatch of the war. i think it's probably the best i've ever read. the fact is able to do that or maybe because he was prompted do that because he sat next to the body of his oldest son, to mehaa makes it and even more compelling story. the fact is able to push through in that moment and right a very
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concise, very descriptive element, and he got in the fact that he felt the commanding general, that this was the belief of the time, had sacrificed his son and his sons battery and his unit, basically by a very bad tactical decision. it's still debated among better students of the battle than i am. >> i do want to get questions from the audience but had so many myself. speaking of wilkeson dispatches, you know in your veryyo interesting think that president lincolns very famous gettysburg address somewhat mirrored the dispatch, seems based off the dispatch. spirit the language of the gettysburg address is very much evident in his commendably although it's not able to prove that it don't think there isn't proof but it only was able to come up with one meeting of sam wilkeson and john hay, one of abraham lincoln two top aides
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after this. sam wilkeson went home and basically just slept for three months after the battle. people were worried about him. a lot of people thought he was never going to make it back. when he came back that fall he ran into one of lincolns people, and this is like two weeks before the gettysburg address, but i think there was a speech that lincoln gave two blocks away from here tonight after the battle of gettysburg and after the battle of vicksburg. the two most famous union victory of the war and lincoln gave a speech that at some of the same phraseology that was an sam wilkeson dispatch aboutgy. redemption and second birth of freedom, that phrase which shows up in the gettysburg address four months later. and so i think there was a tie. i think lincoln who was a reader of newspapers by the dispatch, , was thinking along the same lines pick even talked about not
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for score, but in that time span, that period. they were also talking about how important it was, but also about this immense sacrifice that had just been rendered up in gettysburg. >> we have a microphone so if you'd like to raise your hand. we have a question over here. >> by have a question. if you were a reporter how was the story filed? there is a lot of gunfire so is there a telegraph line and their? >> if there were then you would hire the runners in the next jump shot with that
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confederate army said they had to string them in. because those correspondents depend upon the union army and those corbels with a little bit of power that there was a lot of censorship with those congressional investigations and how it was treating the correspondence but those lines when ride up the battlefield. there is no clear pattern but one man who was shot out to so he got on the fast train to baltimore and with
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that telegraph office. and as he is transmitting but then to interview them. and then to be the head competitor of this with some of version of the old testament and if you have the telegraph you keep it and then they start typing from the bible. but i can imagine being on the other end of that.
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>> it is a very good question but that has totally changed the communication and with those facts with the telegraph in those that were with the dispatch was probably the most recreated in the world and to make as special type of pamphlet. but i think that per-capita dead newspaper use was
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higher than in any advertisement the country but then the head of the census bureau case now with a very long report of the role the newspaper played an increasing literacy to democratize. >>. >> with all those different newspapers covering the war but was in your times editorial stance price how did that compare to other papers? >> very good question it was very conservative most of that tribune 11 that was one of the reasons why that he went there.
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but there was of great movement as the anti-war paper. they kept pushing for accommodation in the peace treaty but they hire three times as many reporters as india other newspaper. that is a good question. >> but i a. m. intrigued by watermelon stand whiskey. as a much more modern circumstance of the first
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goal for as those journalists were abetted with us troops and what was the relationship like? >> and those that carried the pen and pad? >> the union general as the commander of the union army two weeks before the battle of gettysburg don't believe everything you read on the internet. [laughter] he said a telegraph that was head of the war effort that
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they are reporting a my whereabouts reporting people anonymously can i throw them out? he said if you want but i can tell you that it will be hard to keep the amount. and then honestly that tell me about this so lincoln suspended habeas corpus there were a number of editors from of philadelphia of bulletin throated jail for printing that to but he was removed three days. . . but there were episodes
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of tarring and other -- bettering of reporters and another o court-martialed him in front of his entire brigade. and sent him on a camp tied up backwards on a mule. and so trying to humiliate him basically. so there was this constant tension and in particular if one of these guys have been particularly sam wilkeson when is working for horse greeley, had been captured by the south come he probably would've been executed because a lot of southern soldiers, confederate soldiers, blamed the greeley for the expansion of the war spirit suggest to clarify, donald trump was not the first person to make the media? >> no. sherman hated the media during the war. there's a story in the book
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about the origins of why sherman hated the media, and it was because the reporter had written a story about in the basically called him insane. my protagonist in the story had a role in that. so you have to read it in the book spirit you are teasing us now.>> now y back to the audience. >> you talk about i'm feeling the real story versus the myth. how did you do that? what source material did you go through? did you have an aha moment and have you discussed that with some of the keepers of the myth? >> i have, john of the gettysburg national military park archive notes the book is that any help you on the research but i got really, really lucky. this is a good point to your question. people of that age were even average everyday people, even if they couldn't spell or had incorrect grammar, they were much more expressive and much more absorbent than we are
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today. the average everyday writings of the 19-year-old or the 15-year-old girl watching year- separate of union, it takes your breath away when you read it today. i realized in that moment that we are losing that in her own current culture i pointing videos and tweeting 140 words. they didn't treat words as throwaway objects.ay they were part of who you were and great care was taken in writing letters. i got really, really lucky because of this family was a very prolific letter writingrole family. the museum has their archives. there are letters involving greedy, letters involving all sorts of different kinds of people. mainly it's the letters between family members that tell the story. t so you go back, it's original stuff. >> talk to us more about that. it's very interesting.
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we sent and received a lot of e-mails but i don't keep a diary personally. i rarely write handwritten letters, but diaries and letters -- >> absolutely. there was a diary that basically got me, this myron clark is really not in the book except in the forward. the fact he kept this diary and if you go back and read it, i think the family has published it online. it talked about july 1 when his unit is coming out of the battlefield and his pulling off an old shirt and put it on a new shirt, how hot it was and how many were falling right and left and the ambulances are picking them up because are going to have from heat exhaustion. you can get into the moment with that. whereas today, it's so fleeting. like i said, we have a tendency more today to treat words as to throwaway objects and we do reverential he.
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>> ptsdptsd, and that is a relatively new term, but it's been around for a while, world war i and was shellshocked. world war ii it was shellshocked but it existed back then. was it treaty, recognized at all? >> here's how it was treated. the officer who is most officer responsible who delivered the orders that created this precarious position that led to this young man to death was a guy named francis bartel who was guy a very, very, very good officer. very good union army officer. but he'd been shot and almost died at gettysburg, or at antietam eight months before and then he was shot again, for that on the battlefield in gettysburg. in both cases his wife came and, she risked her life and
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basically nursed him back to health. and she became well known within the union army as this great nurse. but in the middle of 1864, a year after gettysburg, and this is after like just weeks after barlow leads what grant would say later was the biggest slaughter hour of the war and his biggest regret of sending troops into a frontal assault weren't really did need to. barlow led that and lost about 80% of his regiment. and his wife died of typhus that you got from soldiers. the woman who nursed him twice back to life. barlow basically lost it, and they had to haul him out of his tent, i don't know if was a straight jacket but basically to say you can't do this anymore and essentially sent him to europe for three months. just to clear his head.
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he comes back at the end of the war, run for public office in new york, becomes the attorney general of new york and is probably most responsible for breaking up tammany hall. so that's how they dealt withtaa it. they sort of soldiered on, but they took breaks spirit youu mentioned this, talk to us about battlefield medicine, lack thereof in many ways, no sanitation. you are literally saw the limb off. >> the ambulance service and the endless system that we have now i'm triage, that sort of thing, began at the battle of antietam seven months before gettysburg, and it was perfected and practiced more at gettysburg. but in practicality, we were light years ahead of the way we kill people then were able to deal with them. battlefield injuries that today would be barely, you know, would
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be barely lethal, would routinely kill people. so that's why there's an episode in this book about after this young man is wounded, that one of his superior officers seize him and realizes what's at risk. he knows that it's probably over for him. even though today he probably would have been saved. the gap between those two was horrendous, and the suffering was indescribable. >> right now i think that's been sorry. the percentage of people who are in, serve in the military now is like 1% or less. back then that was a higher number. more families were actually affected by. spirit of the population of the country was 30 million. there were probably about, on both sides, there were more than 3 million who served in the two combined armies. you figure probably 30 or 40% of
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menmen, adult insert in the arm. the casualty list were probably hit one out of every 10 families. and then you know, just directly and then you know people that did it. by the end of the what everybody was invested in the war in one way or another in a very personal way. >> chock, you devote this myth. did you find any others in the grander story of gettysburg in the research? >> that is a good question. i got into, there there is this entering debate about who was responsible for holding the high ground on the first day on cemetery ridge. and t it actually got embroiled in 1864 election, and there are two generals, one was howard, of whom howard university was named who was the lead of the first and 11th court on the first
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day, and hancock who, in my mind, basically came and made the decision and said we will stay, we are not going to leave this. they argued for years. congress weighed in in early 1864 which led into the debate of the election of 1864 by awarding a metal to howard for doing it but not to hancock. my research and what i looked at and a look at everything, i think hancock was more responsible. but i'm not alone that but it does certainly, it is certainly, a kismet different view of that particular moment. it was a key moment, battle, because they were outnumbered two to want and they did knoww what all the other, the union corps was spread over 60 miles of maryland and pennsylvania anr it took them, some of them a whole day to get to the battle. >> want to talk about a couple more things before we wrap up. i've been to gettysburg, i'm
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sure most of us have, walked those battlefields. there been hundreds of books written about the civil war and gettysburg itself. this one is an interesting take on the idea of focusing on the lost the family faced and the personal stories that they have, as well as the impact it has on generations after that. >> that's what struck me about it when i ran into the clark family. this is 150 years 50 years later and they're still speculating about the promised loss to this young man. you multiply that, even if it's not over over, you multiply that through the years and that's why the story goes on. it raises more questions, frankly, than it answers.ue i do want to make this an exposition of the futility of war. we have been defined by conflict since the beginning ofation bu civilization, but it certainly gave me a sense of meaning thato even if you are not directly connected to the military or
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whatever, this estimate is enduring. it's never over. >> and there is a measure of full devotion i think is the phrase. is there such a thing as a noble death? if you're lying on the battlefield knowing you're going to die, it probably doesn't feel so noble. >> there was a in 1863 that's been dubbed by better scholars than i was called the good death. we tend to put the civil war into isolation in the concept of death, that was all this carnage. carnage. this is an era in which people didn't expect to live into thehi '80s and \90{l1}s{l0}\'90{l1}s{l0}. almost every family law someone at age one, two or three. the understood death was part in life. and so this concept of the good death, it was this idea that i
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start out with by saying it was better to live nobly and die a rogue looked at age 19 that it was for 90 years. so that was in part, goes back to the mother saying the most important thing to me was he fought. i don't care if he died as much as he fought well. that led to it. you realize one of the reasons why this was his not on intimate but there were mass death, mass burials on long island fromd colorado. 10,000 people -- cholera. so the mass battle, mass death trenches of the civil war were not exactly new. they were part of society back then. and, of course,, you know, what was going on with mortality in general because of those wicked diseases was pretty well-known fighting. and, of course, extrapolated and
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it got worse as all these armies gathered together a more people died from disease than it did d from battle in the civil war. >> it was more double the diver fighting for a cause than of cholera sitting at home. >> even if you live to 90. >> that makes sense. i don't see any other questions and ideas. before asked the last question i would like to present our guests with the national press club mug.t >> thank you. [applause] >> i would also like to remind our audience the book and author national press club journalism author fare is friday november 18. market on your calendars. it's always one of our favorite events and we will have a chuck raasch sign books at that event there as well. .. s with uh take away don't give away everything but i read this over the course of the week


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