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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will recall that Ol’ Robbo’s first cousin (once removed) was to dine at Port Swiller Manor this evening and, at the same time, deliver her late husband’s Civil War library to me. Such friends will also recall that Ol’ Robbo had both apprehensions and anticipations about said visit.

Well, as the Black Knight said in “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”, we’ll call it a draw.

As to my apprehensions, Ol’ Robbo was concerned that said cousin – who is about fifteen years older than me – would play the WuFlu Karen, insisting on a ridiculous regime of masking and distancing which would have rendered the visit not only pointless but absurd. Well bless her, she didn’t. We sat at table like civilized adults and enjoyed ourselves. On the other hand, she did manage to insert into the conversation various bugaboos about mounting evidence of permanent effects and irresponsible citizens and have you got your flu shot yet because if you haven’t you’re all gonna diiiieeee!!!! She also bewailed the hardships caused by the current lockdown, and yet couldn’t bring herself to consider the idea that, in a rational cost/benefit analysis, maybe said lockdown really wasn’t such a good idea.

I just smiled diplomatically and simply pointed out, as a general proposition, that a thing which can’t continue, won’t.

As to my anticipations, well, I’d say they were somewhat to mostly filled. Cousin C brought something in the neighborhood of fifty books altogether. (As to why, she explained that she had done all her own Civil War reading as a teenager and then had moved on to Other Things. She’s just cleaning deadweight out now. This is just the way she talks. Holyoke and Harvard will do that to you. I’ve learned to, well, smile diplomatically.)

As to the books themselves, at first glance there are a few that I already own, including The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts by Burke Davis, which is nothing more than a dead-tree version of trivia click-bait, and James Longstreet’s dreary and plodding autobiography, From Manassas To Appomattox. I promised Mrs. R, who is hostile to this whole biznay for reasons of her own, that I would donate or chuck any duplicates. I’m not at all sorry to do so.

On the other hand, the batch includes some potential gems including One Of Jackson’s Foot Cavalry by John W. Worsham and Fighting For The Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander. You can’t go wrong with eyewitness sources. (Well, except maybe Longstreet, as noted above. I respect him as a soldier. I cringe at him as an author.) Also, there are a couple of volumes by Bruce Catton I haven’t read including This Hallowed Ground and A Stillness at Appomattox. Bruce Catton? Say no more!

For the rest, they’re mostly descriptions of this or that particular campaign or battle, plus some biographical material mostly focused on Confederate figgahs such as Lee, A.P Hill, Jackson, and Jubal Early. (I know nothing of my cousin’s late husband or why his Civil War bios seem to center on Southerners, but there it is. Perhaps my cousin’s own Yankee Progressiveness explains her desire to get rid of them all.)

Anyhoo, it’s on to new pleasures for Ol’ Robbo. If I turn up anything blogworthy, of course I’ll let you know.

UPDATE: I sorted through the pile this afternoon and found in fact ten volumes that I already have, which, per comments below, I will box up and ship off to long-time friend of the decanter Vic, as I know they will find a good home with her.

As for the rest, they’ve obviously been sitting on a shelf for a very long time and are in various states of shabbiness. This is where Mrs. R’s primary objection comes in: What I call “old book smell” she calls “mold”. And she doesn’t like it. I’m already planning to put them all on a secondary shelf down in the basement, out of sight and out of mind, but if I could find a way to spruce them up just a bit, so much the better.

UPDATE DEUX: Our Maximum Leader leaves a comment about a teevee program discussing a purported photograph of Lincoln after he was shot. Checking, I see he put up a post discussing it over at Villainy HQ. To crib a phrase, carry on.


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October 2020