As some of you know I have been working with author Joel Moore on a series of internet radio programs about the Civil War. Eventually these will be curated into a web site dedicated to the subject. That is a project that will take some time.

What I have learned in my Journey Into The Civil War is that it was far more complex than most people realize. History shows that often times the narrative is ruled by the winner. Do not get me wrong I am not accusing anyone of twisting facts, but there are always two sides to every argument.

The Civil War is a recent enough event for there to be a great deal of documentary evidence that has survived.

A few days ago I got to see a wonderful piece of history. One of the subjects on the list for programs is the ‘Signals’, both sides by 1862 had established ‘Signals’ as a very distinct role within conflict. Ted Urbanski has been researching the role of ‘Signals’ for a long time. During that time he has uncovered a treasure trove of information.

What I think is a wonderful discovery is a collection of letters written by a young Signalman to his family. Ted says this in his introduction:

In July 2017 while providing a living history program on the Federal Signal Corps 18621865 at Strawberry Banks Museum located Portsmouth, New Hampshire we had the pleasure of meeting a young man from Montana who was also a Federal re-enactor. He was attending a summer school program at Harvard University and had made it his one goal to attend a Civil War Re-enactment. When he contacted the folks at the museum they sent him over to my email address as I was the contact person for a group of living historians who portray a Civil War Signal Detachment, for both sides. That particular day we were portraying a Federal Signal Detachment assigned to the 2nd Army Corps Headquarters of Major General Winfield Scott Hancock Army of the Potomac 1863-1864.

The young man made his way up to Portsmouth by bus, found the museum after walking over four miles from the local bus station. Our unit was surprised that he would actually come though giving up his free time from school to join up with us for a few hours. The company voted him in as an honorary member of the unit. It was an awesome experience for him but also for us to meet up with a fellow re-enactor from the Western States.

A few weeks later this young man emailed me and asked if I would help him find out about a Federal Signal Detachment which had been attached to the Department of Missouri in 1864-65 and took part in what became known as the Eastern Powder River Expedition. Being an avid researcher and living historian I said I would help him but it would take time as I would have to send for their military records and pension records from the National Archives.

Now due to this young man from Montana I found a treasure which lay dormant in history: 31 known letters were written by Private First Class Lewis A. Waterman to his family in Providence, Rhode Island from May 1864 to December 1865. He wrote to his brother-in law Lewis Anthony, his sister Emily, his brother Frank, his mother Brittania Patt and Edgar Waterman.

Ted has kindly permitted me to publish the entire book. Please enjoy it and thank Ted Urbanski for his work.

18 Months on the Kansas Frontier

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