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  #1  
Old 17 Apr 07, 12:45
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IamCubicus IamCubicus is offline
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May 2007 Cover Story _ Edwin Jemison

Dana:

As a new subscriber, I have really enjoyed getting to know your magazine through the excellent articles on the Iron Brigade, Robert Smalls, etc.

However, I must say I was disappointed in the handling and content of the feature article of your May issue on Edwin Jemison.

First: Your headline on the cover - "Who Killed this Boy?" - was sensationalist in nature and did not accurately reflect the purpose of the story, which never addressed WHO killed Private Jemison. "How did this boy die?" would have been more refective of the story.

Second: The introduction to the story on page 28 says that Private Jemison was "...born to Robert and Sarah Jemison; the family lived near Monroe, La.; and he enlisted in the 2nd Louisiana when he was 16 years old."

Since I grew up near Monroe, this immediately caught my attention. However, never again is Monroe or Louisiana even mentioned in the story. Every other mention of Private Jemison or his family is linked to Macon, Georgia, including his disputed resting place. It even says his father and brother were city attorneys in Macon. So what was their connection with Monroe, LA, and why did Private Jemison enlist with the 2nd Louisiana? Did his family only live in Monroe a short time and then return to Macon? Or what??

Third: Most of the article is spent questioning and debunking Captain Moseley, and rightly so. He obviously was first and foremost a storyteller and huckster. But given that we know for a fact that Jemison was killed at Malvern Hill, and Moseley did have that part of the story right (even though he supposedly wasn't there!), don't you think it's possible he had heard the story of Jemison's death from someone who WAS there, who knew Jemison personally, and may have relayed the gruesome details of his death to Moseley? Given Jemison's and Moseley's common connection with Macon, GA, it is likely they shared common acquaintances. Granted, Moseley embellished the story to place himself as the observer, but the fact remains that the story (without Moseley in the picture) COULD be true.

Finally: In your prologue to the story on page 27, you (rightfully) bring Major General Butler to task for digging up the left arm of Stonewall Jackson to answer his doubts that it really was buried on the farm near Chancellorsville. You allude that Filipowski and Harrington did not have to resort to such crude measures in "proving" that Jemison was not buried under the marker in Milledgeville, GA. In your words -- "Using a variety of sources, they determined that Jemison was in fact not buried in Georgia."

Being a history and genealogy buff, and loving a good investigation as much as anyone, I read the story with much anticipation to learn how they discovered the truth about Private Jemison's resting place.

I was very disappointed, and left unconvinced, when the only "proof" was the original obituary from 1862. I'm not sure what the other "variety of sources" were.

Many soldiers' remains were brought home from the battlefield at a later date, and the author's supposition that this "seemed unlikely" isn't what I would consider "proof".

You created a sense of excitement and anticipation with the lead-in to this article, that some long unanswered questions were about to be solved through superior research and analytical work, without resorting to the barbaric methods of Major General Butler.

Granted, the authors didn't resort to Butler's methods, but I'm afraid they didn't really answer any questions either. All we DO know is that Jemison was originally buried on the battlefield, and we probably can't trust what Captain Moseley said.

We still DON'T know how Private Jemison was killed, or where his remains are (now) buried. And those, to me, are the questions people are interested in.

Many thanks again for a fine magazine-
Herb Holloway
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  #2  
Old 21 Apr 07, 20:19
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Jemison's Final Resting Place

Herb,
I am glad to read that you're a new subscriber.
Some of your comments are in the editor's dept. and I'll not interfere with decisions made there. But, perhaps I can clarify some of the things that trouble you about the latest Jemison article.
As the article was about the legend of Edwin Jemison losing his head to a cannon ball at Malvern Hill we did not think it necessary to go into his personal history which, of course, would have included Monroe, LA.
It IS possible that Moseley and Jemison had common acquaintances. Or, that they even knew each other personally. However, Moseley was quite definate that it was he, Moseley, who had been covered with gore from Jemison's ghastly wound. No other witness was mentioned. Many men were hit by cannon fire at Malvern Hill. Jemison could have been one of them. But, Moseley had no first hand evidence of it as the legend relates. That was our point.
As for Jemison being buried at Malvern Hill rather than in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, GA I suggest you look at the article in the May 2004 America's Civil War - available online here - for the evidence. There was more than the obituary.
I hope that the 2004 article, which was co-authored with my friend Alexandra Filipowski, will answer some of your questions. It may also raise new questions. Such is the way of history.
I want to thank you for reading the article and taking the time to comment upon it.

Hugh
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  #3  
Old 23 Apr 07, 10:54
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Herb--thanks for reading ACW and thanks for weighing in on the Jemison story. I find it quite amazing how many people feel attached to Pvt. Jemison and want to know exactly what happened to him. I also received several letters about the article, some of which will be in my July and September issues. The power of a photograph...

I see Hugh has responded to many of your comments, so I'll let his words stand for those issues. I'd just like to add that I think he and Ms. Filipowski have done some really interesting work with Jemison, and deserve quite a lot of credit for being inqusitive and not accepting the Moseley story at face value.

I don't think we will ever really know what happened to young Jemison, but Hugh and Alexa have gotten a lot closer to the truth, in my opinion, than any other authors. We know because of them that he is not buried under his monument, and that Moseley was very likely telling a tall tale. That's a heck of a lot more information that existed about Jemison before they began their research.

If the absolute truth is out there, then I also have no doubt that their article can serve as a spur to other researchers and historians to keep digging into the story.


Regarding the cover line, I think you are correct. "How" would have been better than "Who." I actually fought for "How" and lost the battle. But the buck stops with me, and I'll fight harder the next time!

One last comment--I don't blame Moseley for doing what he did, nor was he the only veteren to have likely stretched the truth. Confederate veterans in particular had it rough after the war. They often returned to communities whose economic infrastructue had been devasted and had meager opportunities to make a living. As they aged, things often got worse because, of course, they nad no chance at getting a Federal military pension.

Numerous vets became "professional veterans," writing books and giving lectures about their war experiences. It lead to economic opportunity they otherwise would not have had. Sam Watkins, the author of the famouse "Company Aytch" is another example. That book saved Watkins financially, and in it he stretched the truth here and there.

And I'm not just bashing the Southerners in case you're think that. Yanks did the same thing!

We are just scratching the surface in our study of the lasting impact of the Civil War on those who fought in it. One of my upcoming issues will have an interesting look at a group of Confederate veterans and their postwar activities by Bill Marvel.

Dana
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Why that avatar? I'm from Western Pa., and that depiction is of a 155th Pa. soldier, a regiment raised in Pittsburgh. Go Steelers!
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Old 26 Apr 07, 11:04
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Like Chamberlain. But, anyways, I think it was highly intreging that anyone would take this man's story to tie directly with Jemison's death. For one thing, it could have been anybody.
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Old 10 May 07, 17:03
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Uncle Edwin

As a great granddaughter of Robert Jemison, whose brother Edwin is the subject of this article, I do have to point out that the family has never been at a loss for who the young boy in the picture is. Uncle Edwin was never lost and until recently it has been understood that Uncle Edwin is not buried at Milledgeville but "at the battlefield near Richmond." I do find it ironic that there has been so much written about the mysteries surrounding Uncle Edwin while we were blissfully unaware that there were mysteries.

In doing genealogical research on my family I've disproved several family legends, and I know that stories do become embellished in time. Seems to me, though, that creating a story that a stranger's brother was decapitated by a cannon ball, his brother's blood mingling with his own takes a great deal of boldness compared to telling the story of a cursed hat to a audience. The authors take Moseley's history of storytelling on a stage and assume that all stories he told were embellished. We should compare the two versions of the story more carefully.

The 1906 newspaper account that reports Mosley told the story and then Robert came out of the crowd to identify his brother. This version ignores the fact that the family did not know the manner of Edwin's death until Robert Jemison met Mosely. Robert Jemison would not have been able to identify his brother in the story, because he didn't know how he died! If indeed the family story is accurate as recorded by Aunt Mamie, then the two gentleman would have met first and then the story recounted.

The authors discount this version because the Jemison name was well known in Macon. According to Aunt Mamie, Mosely recognized the name Jemison, and he said that he hadn't heard that name since the Battle of Malvern Hill. In their opinion, Mosely would have been familiar with the name because Robert Jemison and Samuel Jemison were prominent attorneys. But by 1906 both city attorney Robert Jemison and his son Samuel had been long dead. It would indeed be possible that Mosely had not heard that name for a long time, more than twenty years. The quote may have been more along the lines of "I haven't heard that name in a long time. I fought next to a Jemison at the Battle of Malvern Hill."

Filipowski and Harrington are among the thousands of people who are fascinated by Uncle Edwin's picture. They've gone a step farther and researched him, his family, and the circumstances surrounding his death. This is the first time that it seems that their research doesn't necessarily support their conclusions.
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Old 11 May 07, 10:33
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[QUOTE=sandbar;683949]As a great granddaughter of Robert Jemison, whose brother Edwin is the subject of this article, I do have to point out that the family has never been at a loss for who the young boy in the picture is.

Sandbar, thanks for weighing in with your opinion. I'm sure it can be difficult to have a relative, particularly one as young as Edwin, to be the subject of so much public speculation. I think the attention given to his photograph, and the desire for folks to know more about him, proves how deep and long lasting an impact the Civil War has had on our country.

I think the points you raise are very interesting, and do provide another angle for looking at Jemison's story. As in previous posts, I'll let Hugh and Alexa respond regarding their research and conclusions.
Dana
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Old 11 May 07, 15:21
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Sandbar, you make several valid points regarding our finding. They add to the debate, which is one of the things I love so much about history. All we can do is look at the facts, draw our own conclusions, and discuss our findings. Hugh and I did just that. We weighed everything we found and constantly tried to prove Mosely right. But for us, the culminating evidence against this was his pension application and The Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia. Both place him in a POW camp at the time Malvern Hill was fought. The pension application has his signature on it, showing his endorsement of the facts laid out in it.

Other points regarding our facts have been brought to our attention by readers who have questioned our findings. We welcome all speculation, and we are currently looking into the points that have been made to either prove or disprove them through documentation. Such questioning is what allows all of us to look beyond what has been put in front of us and allows us to learn about what we thought we already knew; for in the long run, isn't it better to try to find explanations to what we're told, than to believe it without question?

Alexa Filipowski
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Old 25 May 07, 17:07
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Apology and Thanks

Dana, Hugh, and Alexa:

Sorry this is so long in coming, I'm afraid I've been "out of pocket" for a while!

Thanks for the additional information and clarifications in your responses. I assumed that there had to be other background information that could not be included with the article, and look forward to reading the 2004 article Hugh mentioned.

I also want to apologize for the arrogant tone of my original post, which led me to cringe when I re-read it today. I do not appreciate such attitudes in others, and am sorry my note came across as it did. I must have been having a bad day, but that is no excuse.

Your responses, however, were very gracious -- and I am very grateful.

And thank you, Sandbar, for providing additional insight into this story of your ancestor. I look forward to researching his connection to Monroe, LA, which, as I said, is not far from where I grew up.

I enjoyed reading of the irony that your family knew some of the answers to the questions and debates swirling among historians and enthusiasts, and was quite unaware of the tempest!

Sincere regards,
Herb Holloway
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Old 25 May 07, 17:21
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Herb,

I know I can speak for Alexa as well as myself when I say that no offense was taken. History is a quest for facts as well as an interpretation of those facts; there is plenty of room for discussion. Rare is it when there is only one absolute answer.
I hope that the 2004 article answers some of your questions. Perhaps, it will raise other questions.
Again, no need to bang your head against the wall. We're all in this together. Good to hear from you.

Hugh
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Old 19 Feb 09, 02:11
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Thumbs up Discuss magazine articles and issues here.

HI

wonderful info guys.... The list of apps looks great....... and i thank u...

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Old 19 Feb 09, 07:40
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AaronDavison and fellow Jemison historians,
There is more to the story. Recent research by Alexa Filipowski and myself has unearthed new primary source evidence that sheds more light on the meeting between Robert Jemison and Warren Moseley. However, as seemingly in all Jemison research, our findings open new doors of inquiry....and of thought.
I hope our new article appears in the near future.
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Old 18 Oct 16, 14:05
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Edwin Jemison biography has been published

Friends and fellow Jemison researchers. I am pleased to announce that Alexandra Filipowski and I, have published the only biography of Edwin Jemison. The title is: "The Boy Soldier: Edwin Jemison and the Story Behind the Most Remarkable Portrait of the Civil War." It is published by Westholme Publishing. It is available at all the usual online sources as well as Barnes and Noble and other bookstores. (right now it seems that Amazon is sold out but that is temporary) I hope that our work (which is documented with primary sources) will answer many questions and will also raised new questions....and, further research in the future.
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