In 1861 two brothers emigrated to America to escape poverty in rural Norway and pursue “the American Dream”. Twenty-one years later one was a pillar of society in Becker County, Minnesota. The other rested under a tombstone inscribed with an alias on the windblown prairie of Dakota Territory, disowned by his family on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. What had happened? A 24-year search for clues revealed a story shrouded in secrecy for more than a hundred years. It stretched from semi-feudal Norway across the American Civil War to Indian Wars in George A. Custer’s famous 7th Cavalry. While the story was heavily influenced by money and religion, it even had ties to the deep Finn Forests of Eastern Norway where black magic had been practiced for centuries. It was a tale of bravery and achievement, but also about battlefield carnage, Indian atrocities, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction to alcohol and opium – and suicide. Surprisingly – one of the triggers for this cascading descent into destruction may have been an inconspicuous staple of 19th Century army life – food: Pork and the wheat biscuit “hardtack”. Together with harsh environmental conditions, horrific battlefield experiences and a life at the edge of civilization, it was a recipe for disaster.
The book reviews interesting connections between PTSD, Rheumatoid Arthritis and a potential pathway to suicide which might have been influenced by staple army food and use of alcohol.
Illustration by David Hughes
I received from William Vodrey, President of the Cleveland Round Table and one of our speakers last year, an email with a link to an article that was published in The New Yorker. Here is the link to the article: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/05/28/angels-and-ages
While the article is rather long, I found it to be very interesting. I learned new information about both what was said at Lincoln’s death and what was also recorded about what he said at the Gettysburg Address. It seems there is some controversy about both. But it is relevant for we Cincy Round Tablers, as the author of the article consults Harold Holzer as well as has quotes from the 1865 Cincinnati Daily Gazette. Holzer will be speaking this Sunday, November 6th at 2:00 pm at The Hebrew Union College, and our November Round Table speaker, David Dixon will also talk about the Gettysburg dedication ceremony. How is that for keeping things current and relevant?
So click on the above link , and read what I think you will find to be a rather well done article.