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A week in Lincoln’s telegraph office – Part 5

In September of 1863, Union General William Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland lost the Battle of Chickamauga in northwest Georgia to Confederate General Braxton Bragg and his Army of Tennessee. Rosecrans retreated to Chattanooga and there feared Bragg, taking the high ground around the city, would starve his army out. He sent a [...]

A week in Lincoln’s telegraph office – Part 4

It’s amazing the things we learn when we read a book. For example, I’m reading David Bates’s account of the years he was a telegrapher in the War Department during the Civil War, the book “Lincoln in the Telegraph Office.” Getting to Washington in the early days of the war was a harrowing experience. Bates [...]

A week in Lincoln’s telegraph office – Part 3

When David Bates got to Washington in April of 1861, he was ordered to the Navy Yard, to be the telegrapher for a Captain Dahlgren. Dahlgren didn’t want anyone tampering with his telegrapher, so he told his sergeant of the guard to post a sentry at the door to the telegraphy room with orders to [...]

A week in Lincoln’s telegraph office – Part 2

David Bates, born in Stuebenville, Ohio, was 17 and a telegrapher working for the Pennsylvania Railroad when the Civil War began. His superintendent ordered him to Washington in April of 1861, to work in the War Department’s telegraph office. A civilian ordering another civilian into the war effort? Here’s how it happened. Lincoln’s Secretary of [...]

A week in Lincoln’s telegraph office – Part 1

I liked Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Lincoln,” particularly the scenes in the telegraph office where Lincoln is reading dispatches and dictating telegrams. Those scenes reminded me that I had a book on my shelf that I had never gotten around to reading, David Bates’s “Lincoln in the Telegraph Office.” I had picked up my copy back [...]

A week of Florida writers – Part 5

Florida claims Jimmy Buffett, although he was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Now get this, in a concert a bit more than a decade ago, Buffett told the audience his hometown was Fairhope, Alabama. Whatever, he lived for a time in Key West, and now Palm Beach is home and has been for a long time. [...]

A week of Florida writers – Part 4

John D. MacDonald was a Pennsylvanian by birth and a Floridian by choice . . .plus he was the best of the modern thriller writers. His start as a writer, though, was as humble as could be. In World War II, he worked for the OSS in China-India-Burma Theater, perhaps as a spy. He came [...]

A week of Florida writers – Part 3

Someone over on the London Observer staff said Carl Hiaasen is America’s finest satirical novelist, rating him right up there with Preston Sturges, Woody Allen, and S.J. Perelman. High praise. Hiaasen graduated from the University of Florida, where he wrote for the Independent Florida Alligator – love that name for a student newspaper – in [...]

A week of Florida writers – Part 2

Florida writer Harry Crews led a hard life. He was born in Alma, Georgia, at the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp in 1935, the son of a sharecropper. At age 17, he joined the Marines and fought in the Korean War. After Crews came home, he drifted south to Florida and enrolled in University of [...]

A week of Florida writers – Part 1

If you live in Florida, where Marge and I have been visiting this past week, you likely know who Edward Bok is, not because he won a Pulitzer almost a century ago or once was the editor of Ladies’ Home Journal, but because he created Bok Gardens with his Singing Tower as its centerpiece. He [...]