Saturday, December 15, 2012

Andersonville Civil War Prison by Robert Scott Davis

Sketch of Andersonville Prison

I have just finished reading Robert Scott Davis Andersonville Civil War Prison published by The History Press.  I was searching for information on the life spans of Andersonville survivors and for what happened during the last days of the prison for my sequel to Hiram's Honor.  I found the book to have an air of authority as the author is a college professor and researcher.  According to a source in this book, less that 1000 Andersonville survivors lived past 1890.  This makes the survival of Private Hiram Terman especially noteworthy.  He was one of the first prisoners in (July 1863) and one of the last out (January 1865) and yet lived until 1926--remarkable!  To read an account of the conditions at Andersonville by Isaiah White, Confederate surgeon, see this primary source. Also above is a monument in Andersonville village for Henry Wirz and a close-up of one of the inscriptions.  Quite a story here--I hope I can capture some more of it in my sequel. To read the present Andersonville chapter in Hiram's Honor, click Andersonville chapter Hiram's Honor

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Untried Life: the 29th OVI in the Civil War by James T. Fritsh

Battle of Cedar Mountain where both the 29th and 82nd Ohio were engaged.
I have just finished reading The Untried Life: the 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War by James T. Fritch.  I hoped to find some stories from the 29th OVI that would shed more light on the what happened to soldiers in Private Terman's regiment, the 82nd Ohio.  Both regiments came from northern Ohio and fought in some of the same battles, such as Cedar Mountain, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.  What I found was an exceptionally well-written, researched, and documented book with many details coming out of the Giddings Regiment (also called the Abolitionist Regiment named after Congressman J. R Giddings of Ohio).  One that comes to mind was of a sane inmate of an "Insane Asylum" in the south that the boys of the 29th uncovered toward the end of the war.  This sane and intelligent man had been put there by his father to prevent him from enlisting with the Union.  Every page has many such accounts along with the names of the soldiers who lived the stories.  It is a long book of 501 pages and each page is printed in small type but I found myself thoroughly enjoying the journey.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The movie "Lincoln"

National Archives copy of the Thirteenth Amendment

After watching the movie "Lincoln" and seeing the personal attributes of President Abraham Lincoln and what it took to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, I can understand the deep affection that Union soldiers such as my ancestor Private Hiram Terman of the 82nd Ohio had for the President.  The scene that sent chills up my spine and tears to my eyes was of the celebration in Congress after passing the amendment as they sang "Rally 'Round the Flag".  I wonder if the ancestral genes of my Civil War ancestor in my being were stimulated.  Although some say this is not an academic historical portrayal (for one historian's opinion click here) I heartily recommend the movie.

Back then they called Lincoln a dictator, a baboon, the original gorilla, and things much worse.  He was hated and loved at the same time.  The genius of democracy is that things still got done like passing the 13th Amendment in a time as racially divided and politically aggressive as the Civil War era. 

My guideline for political discourse today with someone I disagree:  " I respect a person's right to have an opinion even if it conflicts with my passionately held basic beliefs.   However, because I am civil and respectful in my discourse does not mean that I approve of his position, just that I recognize his personhood and that he, like I, is human, a child of God, with all the limits, rights, and responsibilities that that entails."


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Civil War Monument Quincy Michigan

Many towns have Civil War monuments honoring the regiments that came from that town.  This monument is in the cemetery at Quincy, Michigan.  I came across it while visiting relatives, my brother-in-law showed it to  me. Viewing this statue and the writings on its side caused me to relive the poignant events I described in Hiram's Honor.  Relive the battle of Gettysburg here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Return to Chancellorsville

We have just returned from a trip to the Chancellorsville battlefield where we again retraced the steps of my ancestor as he survived the flank attack of Stonewall Jackson.  Above is a view of the Hawkins farm area where the 82nd Ohio was stationed and awaited the onslaught that pushed the regiment back to the Chancellor house area.

Friday, September 21, 2012

PBS show Death and the American Civil War

PBS presentation American Experience "Death and the American Civil War".  Some estimates say over 750,000 persons may have died in the conflict.  In writing Hiram's Honor, scenes like this appeared often in my imagination.  See the film at

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hiram's Honor Interview Author Podcast

American Civil War Today Podcast interview with me about the writing of Hiram's Honor is available for viewing at

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fort Donelson Major Civil War Turning Point

I recently spoke to the Salina Ks Civil War Round Table on Civil War Turning Points.  Many historians believe that the capture of Fort Donelson by U. S. Grant was the turning point of the Civil War .   I also discussed my ancestor's view of major turning points and his pension filesClick here for more on Civil War turning points.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hiram's Honor at Warren County Historical Society

Hiram's Honor is available at the Warren County Historical Society gift shop/bookstore in Lebanon, Ohio.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pope's Retreat August 19, 1862


Some escaping slaves and Pope's Army of Virginia pulling back across the Rappahannock River on August 19, 1862.  My ancestor in the 82nd Ohio was in the rear guard of this movement.  The Second Battle of Bull Run was coming soon for him. In Hiram's Honor, this event is on page 78.   For more on this famous photograph, click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania.  I just finished reading THIS HALLOWED GROUND by Bruce Catton.  This celebrated book is the complete story of the Civil War as seen from the Union side. Catton is expert at bringing in the human aspects of historical fact and the personalities involved in the Civil War.  I found his writing an inspiration to writing my chapters in Hiram's Hope in a way that captures the war up close and personal. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Civil War Prisoners of War

The prisoners of war returning from Andersonville and other prisons not only suffered the numbing terror of horrendous battles but had to endure the grinding misery of starvation in the prison camps.  The sequel to Hiram's Honor, tentatively titled Hiram's Hope, examines how my ancestor Private Hiram Terman, coped after his return.  Based on his pension files, it is a novel about how again, as in battle, the help of his comrades lifts him from lonely isolation to a life of hope.
“As for myself, I never felt so utterly depressed, cursed, and God-forsaken in all my life before. All my former experiences in battles, on marches, and at my capture were not a drop in the bucket as compared with this.” —Walter E. Smith, Pvt., Co. K, 14th Illinois Infantry commenting on his time at Andersonville

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

I have just finished reading Leonard Pitts, Jr. novel Freeman about an educated ex-slave and Union soldier who ventures into the South after the close of the Civil War to look for his wife who he left behind 15 years earlier when he escaped slavery.  The novel gives a close up look at what it was like for a black man traveling in the turmoil of the war-torn and unsettled southern states.  Also portrayed is an attempt by a northern woman to establish a school for freed slaves in a small southern town.  I found the novel well-written and revealing of the cultural divides that existed at that time.   It gave me a feel for the period my great uncle lived in after his return from his  hard service with the 82nd Ohio in the Civil War. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stephen Crane and the Battle of Chancellorsville

The site of Stonewall Jackson's flank attack at Chancellorsville.  My ancestor and the 82d Ohio were in the back center of this view and he narrowly escaped the onslaught.  Chancellorsville was most likely the battle in Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (see this website).  Crane's novel inspired my use of the first person and the perspective of the common soldier in Hiram's Honor. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Reminiscences Of Carl Shurz

I just finished reading the memoirs of General Carl Shurz, the commanding general of the 11th Corps, 82nd Ohio, and Private Terman at Gettysburg.  His account of the events of July 1, 1863 from the view of the commander on a hill match the events that happened to my ancestor who was fighting on the ground north of Gettysburg.   Click here to relive Private Terman's ordeal at Gettysburg.  Also, I learned much about events immediately following the Civil War that will help in writing my sequel to Hiram's Honor.  Click here  to read this memoir.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Historical Novel Society Review of Hiram's Honor

I was pleased to get this review by the Historical Novel Society.  "The book is well-written and the character building is excellent. Max Teman offers the reader a realistic and detailed account of the battles and what camp life was like for the soldiers. I felt as if I were there witnessing first-hand what they were going through. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover the author is a descendant of Hiram, which made the story all the more interesting to read. I highly recommend this book to readers who are interested in this period of time in U.S. history."  For complete review see

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Second Manassas by Scott Patchan

Where the 82nd Ohio under General Robert Milroy slowed down the attack by Confederate General James Longstreet on August 30, 1862 allowing the Federal Army to escape at the Battle of Second Manassas (Second Bull Run).  I just finished reading the fine account of Longstreet's attack detailed in Scott C. Patchan's Second Manassass: Longstreet's Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge.  I was pleased to confirm the position of my ancestor's 82nd Ohio regiment in this approximate area on the Sudley Road across from the Visitor's Center.  The landmark Stone House can be seen in the background.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Club Wichita, Kansas

I attended the Chautauqua Book Club in Wichita, Kansas who had chosen Hiram's Honor as their Book Club selection for the month.  The discussion quickly focused on the characters in Hiram's Honor  (Hiram, Seth, and Isaiah) and why did I give them the personality traits that I did in this true but dramatized story.  Much of this came from the Civil War letters and the issues that were mentioned and the men as they described themselves.  Other traits came from my perspective as a descendent of the main character in the story.  We also discussed the concept of "honor" and what it meant as Hiram and his friends endured marches, battles, camp life, and most importantly the horrors of prisons like Andersonville.  Honor here became a matter of keeping one's humanity amidst the storm of survival.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Battles and Turning Points of the Civil War

I gave a presentation on the major turning points in the Civil War at Butler Community College in Marion, Kansas.  In my research I found that the Union victory at Fort Donelson is considered by many to be the earliest battle that turned the war in favor of the North.  Since Hiram's Honor takes such a wide swath through the Civil War, I was able to make many of the major battles more personal by telling where my ancestor was in these pivotal engagements.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Battle of McDowell 150th Anniversary

Private Hiram Terman's first battle with the 82nd Ohio was at McDowell, Virginia.  This battleground was one of the most moving for us to visit and walking up the slopes of Bull Pasture Mountain was a powerful experience that helped to launch the writing of Hiram's Honor.  Visit the Battle of McDowell web site at