Wrong Again – Please Read History

In the last few days, I have read two erroneous statements made about the Emancipation Proclamation and Union soldiers fighting to end slavery.


Juneteenth Celebration

In an article about Juneteenth, a reporter wrote that on June 19, 1865, that Union General Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and told the slaves that by virtue of the Emancipation Proclamation, they were free.  An article in USA Today said, “On June 19, Americans around the country will celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation in the USA.” The article was later corrected to: “Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Juneteenth’s relation to slavery. It celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, but the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t apply to all states in the USA. The 13th Amendment brought an end to slavery.” Thanks for the correction. To learn more about this celebration, please read the 2015 Juneteenth Celebrated with Joy, Sorrow, and Courage. To learn more about the Emancipation Proclamation and laws dealing with Black Rights, please read Lincoln Freed the Slaves and Other Myths.

In President Trump’s commencement speech to West Point cadets on  June 13, 2020, the President referred to West Pointers who fought in the Civil War. However, he only referred to those West Point graduates who fought for the Union between 1861 and 1865. Trump called them, “American patriots … who fought a bloody war to extinguish the evil of slavery within one lifetime of our founding.” Let’s review the reasons why we fought the Civil War.  For a brief overview, please read the Causes of the Civil War. There are many reasons why we fought this war and they differ depending on where you stood in the military hierarchy.

  • untitled-18

    U. S. Grant

    Government: Preserve the Union and Put Down the Rebellion

  • Officers: Preserve the Union, Advance in the Military, and Enhance Their Resume (political officers)
  • Soldiers: Preserve the Union, Avoid Condemnation from Community, Friendship, and Participate in a Great Adventure (“See the Elephant”)
  • No one fought to free the slaves!


Confederate Perspective

  • Government: Preserve Slavery as the Foundation of their Wealth and Maintain Southern Society. The initial statements from seceding states sited preserving slavery as the primary reason. Please read Why Virginia Seceded.
  • Officers: Loyalty to State Rather Than Country (Lee refused position to lead Union Army because he would not fight against Virginia), Defend Confederacy from the North (South named war the War of Northern Aggression), Preserve Family Wealth, and Enhance Personal and Family Reputation
  • Soldiers: Defend Confederacy from the North (South named war the War of Northern Aggression), Avoid Condemnation from Community, Friendship, and Participate in a Great Adventure (“See the Elephant”). Not to defend slaveowners’ rights (“It’s a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight)

Lee and his Generals

Update and Correction

I received an interesting response concerning my statement “No one fought to free the slaves!” My comment was way too broad. I would rephrase it to read “Most Northerners did not fight to end slavery, but to save the Union.”  My original comment was based on things I have read which indicated this was a widespread attitude. Certainly, US Colored Troops fought to end slavery. Of course, I don’t know what every Union soldier thought. I would point out the New York City draft riots in which Blacks were killed.

Union Soldiers Condemn Slavery – “Although the attitudes of many white Union soldiers toward slavery and emancipation ranged from indifference to outright racial hostility, others viewed the issue as central to their participation in the war. The following quotations, taken from letters, diary entries, and contemporary newspaper interviews with white Union soldiers, reveal the attitudes of those who viewed slavery as both a primary cause of the conflict and a key rationale for fighting.”

Why White Soldiers Fought to End Slavery – “Historians agree that most Union Army soldiers, no matter what their national origin, fought to restore the unity of the United States, but emphasize that:  “… they became convinced that this goal was unattainable without striking against slavery.” - James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, p. 118.  McPherson’s book adds that witnessing the Southern slave system first-hand significantly strengthened the anti-slavery views of white Union soldiers, leaving them appalled by the system’s brutality: “Experience in the South reinforced the antislavery sentiments of many soldiers. One Pennsylvanian Union soldier spoke to a slave woman whose husband was whipped, and was appalled by what she had to tell him of slavery. He stated that “I thought I had hated slavery as much as possible before I came here, but here, where I can see some of its workings, I am more than ever convinced of the cruelty and inhumanity of the system.” – Ibid., pp. 36-37.

The Civil War Was About Slavery. Confederate Leaders Were Totally Clear On This. – “I would save the Union,” Lincoln wrote. As for enslaved Africans, they were just pawns in his war strategy: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. … What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.” This link contains quotes by Confederate leaders on slavery.

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The Time for Action is Now


Author’s Photo from the African American Heritage and Education Center

As the nation deals with two epidemics, Covid 19 and racism, it is time for American writers to address the longest-lasting disease — racism.




Black authors have written on the subject for decades. They have described the cruelty they suffered and how they have dealt with it. They do not need encouragement to continue telling the story, reminding young Blacks about their history, and advocating for change.


Adobe Photoshop PDF

Twelve Years a Slave

Now is the time for White authors to increase their efforts. Racism is not just a Black problem. Nor is it a Latino, Asian, Moslem, or Jewish problem.  It is a worldwide problem, but especially an American problem. Our racist society began with the importation of slaves in the 17th century to work on plantations. These slaves brought farming technology with them. Technology that their slave owners were happy to employ. Slaves were bred like farm animals to produce children who would grow into strong adults to labor in the slave owner’s fields. This slavery was accompanied by lash and rape. Slavery became THE stain on America. Racism institutionalized and perpetuated that disgrace.



Uncle Tom’s Cabin

White writers should explore the roots of this inherited disease. They should produce books for all ages. We must recognize that racism is maintained and disseminated by ignorance. I believe this can be cured through education. Black authors should tell the story of how Blacks have suffered, how they have triumphed over adversity, and recommend courses of action. However, Blacks cannot solve the problem alone. Racism exists in the minds of White people and its eradication must include changing these minds.

Twenty-five Crucial Books About Racism In America

From 25 Crucial Books About Racism In America

Books about American slavery

From Books About American Slavery

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Preorder for Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy

Waldorf Publishing has just announced that Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy is available for preorder.  The cost of the biography is $19.95, and the release date is August 2020.


Please see a summary to learn more about this overlooked Texan.

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McFarland Military History Book Offer

This is a great time to purchase that military history book on your wish list. As Memorial Day approaches, McFarland Publishers is offering readers a chance to pick up a good military history book for personal reading, or perhaps as a Father’s Day gift for dad. Beginning on Monday, May 18th, and running through Memorial Day, May 25th, McFarland Publishers will offer 40% off all military history titles with coupon code MILITARY40. 

Please check out my military publications: Teacher of Civil War Generals and Preparing for Disunion.

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Writing During the Current Crisis

Stay-at-home restrictions, whether they be from governments or personal decisions, provide opportunities to write.  The time saved from commuting and leisure-time activities can be used to create new stories using various formats and media. While this suggestion may seem inappropriate, I believe that expressing your feelings and fears may help you and others deal with the sickness, job loss, isolation, and anger during the health and economic crisis.

The topics may include both fiction and non-fiction formats. You might write about the effect of the crisis on charity or charities.  The scope could be local, state, or national. You could write about how a real or fictional director of a charity is managing the crisis.

Here are a few examples of subjects that can be non-fiction or fiction:

COVID 19 or Job Loss and …

  • Health Care Worker
  • Farmer
  • Auto Worker in Kentucky
  • Researcher
  • Reporter
  • Small Business Owner
  • Single Parent
  • Children
  • Minister
  • Teacher
  • College Student

Best wishes and stay safe.



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Review of Ebenezer Allen-Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy

Ebenezer_Allen_Final_CoverAuthor Allen Mesch captures a quarter-century of Texas history through the life of Ebenezer Allen in his latest book — Ebenezer Allen-Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy.  As the Attorney General and Secretary of State for the Republic of Texas, Allen was at the center of the transition of Texas from an independent nation to statehood to the Confederate States of America.  A visionary, Allen, a New Englander, led an effort that ultimately connected the Gulf of Mexico to the Red River in North Texas via rail.

Just as he did with his previous books, Mr. Mesch diligently gathered original documents, photos, and letters to develop this biography.  Making extensive use of those writings, the author takes the reader back to the mid-nineteenth century using the language of the day.  He does not try to over-interpret the documents. Mr. Mesch allowed the original correspondence and official documents to speak for themselves. In addition, Mr. Mesch also connected with Allen’s great-great-great-granddaughter who provided him insight into the family history.

Today, many Texas politicians like to proclaim their long-term family ties to Texas with words such as “I am a fifth-generation Texan.” What they never mention is the fact that many of their forebears were transplanted Northeasterners like Ebenezer Allen. Ebenezer Allen quickly became part of his community; first in Clarksville and then in Galveston.   He held prominent positions in both the Republic of Texas and the State of Texas.  He was the first elected Texas attorney general.  The Collin County city of Allen bears his name.  Interestingly enough, the current Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, lives in Collin County.  Neither Paxton nor Allen were native Texans.

Alan E. Mesches, author of Major General James A. Ulio: How the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army Enabled Allied Victory (Casemate Publishers, June 2020).

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We Need Another James Ulio

We could use another James A. Ulio in the midst of the COVID 19 crisis. We desperately need someone to fix the current logistical mess in supplying medical supplies to hospitals and health care workers — someone like Major General James A. Ulio. 

Ulio faced the task of building an Army large enough to fight wars in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. Through his efforts, the Army increased in size from around 200,000 soldiers to eight million—in less than five years. He advocated and navigated around lowering the draft age to eighteen. He led and oversaw training efforts that quickly and efficiently prepared soldiers. The general correctly projected that those methods would be a positive outcome of the war. His team identified the appropriate allocation for incoming troops. In order to field sufficient troops to ensure an Allied victory, Ulio had to address and challenge commonly held beliefs on race and gender. It was his order in 1944 that ended segregation on military transportation and in recreational facilities on Army posts.

Thankfully, Alan Mesches has written an excellent biography of General Ulio. Alan’s book reveals Ulio’s unrecognized contributions to the war effort.  This biography should be on every World War II student’s bookcase.

For more information and to order a copy,  please see  Major General James A. Ulio 


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Learning How to Write

For readers who are considering writing a novel, biography, memoir, how-to guide, history, etc., I think the best way to get started is by taking a writing class. That’s how I began my journey.


Collin College  (Collin College Webpage)

I prefer onsite classes rather than with online programs. There are several options at Collin College in Texas.




The formal, for-credit classroom courses at Collin College can be found at:

  • ENGL 1301 – Composition I – Intensive study of and practice in writing processes, from invention and researching to drafting, revising, and editing, both individually and collaboratively.
  • ENGL 1302 – Composition II – Intensive study of and practice in the strategies and techniques for developing research-based expository and persuasive texts.
  • ENGL 2307 – Creative Writing I – Practical experience in the techniques of imaginative writing. May include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, or drama.

These are rigorous college classes with homework and tests. They require admission to the college. You may be able to audit the classes and free yourself of the rigors of assignments and exams.


Collin College – Courtyard Campus (Collin Collge Webpage)

Taking continuing education classes is another option. These classes do not require admission to the college unless they lead to a certificate. This is the route that I selected.

The continuing education classroom courses at Collin College can be found at:



  • Basics of Writing a Novel Subject: CWRI 9216 – Hours: 24 Fee: $149 73478 1/27–3/16 M 6:30–9:30 pm 202072 CY
  • Blueprinting Your Novel Subject: CWRI 9200 – Hours: 15 Fee: $129 Prerequisite: Basics of Writing a Novel 73479 3/23–4/27 M 6:30–9 pm 202072 CY Market and Promote Your Novel Subject: CWRI 9215 Hours: 12 Fee: $119 73480 4/16–5/7 R 6:30–9 pm 202072 CY
  • Market and Promote Your Novel Subject: CWRI 9215 Hours: 12 Fee: $119 73480 4/16–5/7 R 6:30–9 pm 202072 CY
  • Memoir Writing I Subject: CWRI 9226 – Hours: 12 Fee: $89 73483 1/29–3/4 W 10 am-noon 202072 CY
  • Memoir Writing II Subject: CWRI 9227 – Hours: 12 Fee: $89 73484 1/29–3/4 W 12:30–2:30 pm 202072 CY

Check out your local community colleges and universities to find a class that meets your needs.


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Some Thoughts to Improve Writing

Crossword Puzzles

Finish-a-Crossword-Puzzle-Step-6-Version-2I like to do crossword puzzles. As an author I learn new words and their definition and correct spelling.  They are a good way to add to your vocabulary.

Read Aloud Function in Microsoft Word

Editing an English language documentI have been using the Read Aloud Function in Microsoft Word to edit my articles, blogs, and books. It is a great way to catch errors and overused words and phrases. I guarantee it will help your writing.

In a Microsoft Word document, select the review function and examine the many editing opportunities available.  Select Read Aloud and begin listening to your writing. You can concentrate on editing the document. You can pause reading when you make corrections.

Other useful options in this menu are Check Document, Thesaurus, and Word Count.  Check document will check for spelling and grammar. Be aware that it will identify problems in quoted material. The Thesaurus is great to find words which are better fits in your document and suggest alternate words. I also use Word Count to keep within editors limitations (only 200, 1000, or 100,000 words).

What editing tools do you use?

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Article in North & South Magazine

North-South-II (1)In late December 2019, I was contacted by the editor of North & South Magazine about writing an article Major General Charles F. Smith based on my book Teacher of Civil War Generals – Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Soldier and West Point Commandant.  It will be quite a challenge, boiling down/omitting information to bring my article down to 4,000 to 5,000 words.  You can download and read a sample article on the About page.

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