I have written 3 to 4 times a week ever since we arrived at Alexandria

Joseph Culver Letter, June 2, 1865, Page 1

U.S. Sanitary Commission [letter head]
Washington, D.C., June 2nd 1865
My Dear Wife

Yours of the 29th ult. recd. last night. I am very happy to hear that you are well. This was the 1st recd. since yours of the 11th ult. I have written 3 to 4 times a week ever since we arrived at Alexandria; before that we had very few mail facilities.

I am happy to hear that Maggie is doing so well. Present my congratulations.1

I am busy day & night but will be partially done by Saturday.2 I will then write. I do not know when we will start home, probably not for a couple of weeks yet.

I recd. a letter from Charlie [Culver] yesterday. Judge Watts told him that he wrote to you inquiring when & where he should send the money but recd. no answer.3 I presume he has lost your address. I will write to him next week if we are not nearly ready to start. I expect to call at Carlisle a few hours on my way home. I drew one hundred dollars from Watts by Charlie yesterday; it will be here to-day.

Mollie is lying very sick at the National Hotel, Washington. Bro. Wes’ Regt. has been sent north & is in camp near Philad. Penna. Wes will go as soon as Mollie can be removed. I have not had time to go & see them, but recd. a letter from Wes. I must close for the present.

May God bless you.
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Mary Culver had undoubtedly written her husband that Maggie Utley had given birth to a baby girl.
  2. Orders were received on the 21st for company commanders to have all their returns, muster rolls, and accounts up-to-date and in order by June 1. General Sherman, on the previous day, had notified the adjutant general that much progress has been made “in the muster out and rolls of discharges.” General Slocum had given assurances that he could complete “the rolls and discharges” for his Army of Georgia within ten days. Distractions were numerous and work lagged. All trains departing Washington were crowded with discharged soldiers on their way home. The cheering of these men, as the trains rumbled northward, was heard in the camps clustered around Fort Lincoln, about one-fourth mile east of the right-of-way of the Baltimore & Ohio. General Sherman on the 30th had issued his farewell order to his troops, thanking them for their love of the Union, for their fidelity to him, for enduring so bravely the privations and hardships, and for their bravery in numerous battles. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 265-66; O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, p. 598.
  3. Judge Frederick Watts of Carlisle, as administrator of the estate of Joseph Culver, was charged with disbursing the assets to the heirs.
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Another day has passed without any word from you

Joseph Culver Letter, May 29, 1865, Page 1

United States Sanitary Commission [letter head]
Hd. Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills.
Washington, D.C., May 29th 1865
My Dear Wife

Another day has passed without any word from you. I begin to fear that you are sick. The last I have recd. was of the 11th inst. while everybody is receiving letters two & three days from home. I have thought that possibly you may be expecting me home on the 1st of June. I shall not go until the Regt. does if I can help it, as I wish to get all my accounts settled as soon as possible, & it will save me a great deal of trouble.

Sister Hannah & Bro. Charlie went home to-day, & I presume are at home with Mother at this hour. They enjoyed their visit very much.

The weather to-day has been beautiful. I do not remember when I enjoyed a morning as I did this one. We [J.F.C. and his brother and sister] started to the city at 5 o’clock. The birds sang so sweetly, and all nature wore a beautiful aspect.

We are all in excellent health. The days seem long to the boys waiting for their discharges, but I am kept so busy that the time passes rapidly. The moon shines brightly to-night. I wish I could look in upon you this evening & know how you are getting along. I think I surely will hear from you by to-morrow’s mail.

We cannot tell when we will start for home, yet we know ‘twil not be long. May Our Father in Heaven bless you. Kiss Howard for me. Remember me kindly to all our friends. With much love, I remain,

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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I shall go to the city with sister Hannah and Bro. Charlie

Joseph Culver Letter, May 28, 1865, Letter 2, Page 1

Head Qurs., Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Washington, D.C., May 28th 1865
My Dear Wife

We received a mail this morning but no word from you; possibly I may be more successful next mail. I shall go to the city with sister Hannah & Bro. Charlie at 5 o’clock in the morning. Bro. Wes & wife did not come up to-day as they promised; I presume the mud prevented them. The weather has been beautiful to-day.

I just recd. yours of April 2nd. It has been lying doubtless at “Fortress Monroe.” I shall be very busy now until all my papers are made up. My Desk arrived this evening. Write often; do not delay on account of my going home. I cannot tell when that will be, but probably by the 10th June. I hope to receive a dozen letters before that time. I will write frequently.

I must go up to the house & see Hannah. I will add a few lines on my return if I can get at the table.

I have just returned. 9-1/2 o’clock. It is raining hard & promises fair for a wet day to-morrow. Frank Long’s trial comes off to-morrow, & Yetter, Hill & myself are summoned.1

We are all well. Alf Huetson was up here to-day. The days seem long as our return approaches. Remember me kindly to all. May the Richest of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you. Good night.

Your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Frank Long was court-martialed for desertion and sentenced to forfeit 88 days’ pay. To do so, he would be retained in service in such regiment as Colonel Case might designate for the subject period. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
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I will add a postscript this morning

Joseph Culver Letter, May 28, 1865, Page 1

Sunday morning,
May 28th 1865
My Dear Wife

I will add a postscript this morning as the mail has not gone out yet. Charlie has gone up to the house to bring Hannah to camp. We are now very nicely fixed up. Cris [Yetter] has been very busy preparing for the reception of ladies this morning. A large bouquet of Laurel decorates the table, & the cedar boughs surrounding the tent & the arbor in front combine to make it very comfortable & pleasant.

It is a beautiful morning. The birds are singing sweetly & the sun shining brightly for the first time in four days. The band of the 2d Brig. is playing some very fine airs. How I wish I could be with you to-day. The band is now playing “Ever of thee I’m fondly dreaming.” I hope before many Sabbaths pass around, we may be all at home. It is time for Inspection. I may add a line or two again before I seal my letter up. Good Bye.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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I have been sadly disappointed in receiving no letters this week

Joseph Culver Letter, May 27, 1865, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
Washington, D.C., May 27th 1865
My Dear Wife

I learned through J. A. Fellows this evening by a letter from his wife of the 22d inst. that you are well. I have been sadly disappointed in receiving no letters this week, & it is now Saturday night. I have felt uneasy thinking you must be sick. I hope, however, to hear from you by to-morrow’s mail.

It has been raining hard for three days, & we have been wet most of the time. Our Review came off very well on Wednesday [the 24th]. You will get the full particulars through the papers. Bro. Charlie came down Tuesday & found his way to camp in the evening. Bro. Wes. with Mary & Hannah were on a stand in front of the President’s Mansion, &, after the Column had passed the Reviewing Officer, I fell out and went back to them. I saw two Brigades of our Division & two Divisions of the 14th Corps pass.1

It was the first Review I ever seen & was quite interesting. After the Review was over, I brought Hannah & Charlie out to camp with me. I got a place for Hannah with Major Richardson & wife, the former commands “Fort Lincoln.”2 She has a very pleasant place. Charlie stays with me in camp. Our camp is 4-1/2 miles from Washington on the Baltimore Pike & 1-1/2 miles from Bladensburg. The situation is a very pleasant one.

We are hard at work preparing for muster out & hope to finish all our papers next week. We have not learned yet what time we may expect to go home, but ’twill not be long.

I was in Washington yesterday in company with Hannah, Charlie, Maj. Richardson & wife, & Mrs. Cartwright. The latter is wife of Lt. Cartwright, Bro. of Mrs. Richardson, & have been married but a week.3 It rained very hard all day, & we were kept close to the houses & the ambulance. We visited the Capitol & Patent Office. Considering the weather, we had a very pleasant trip.

Hannah & Charlie will go home on Monday morning [the 29th]. I could not drive from my mind the idea as we passed down the Avenue on Wednesday [24th] that you might be present. I thought there would certainly be a delegation from our part of the State thus affording you an opportunity to come. I know you would have enjoyed it. It occurs to me just now, however, that you could not leave Sister Maggie [Utley] which may also account for the long intervals in your letters.4

Another week has passed away, & another Sabbath approaches. I hope soon, very soon, to spend them with you in God’s service. I will probably write to-morrow if I am not called on for too many reports. Always when we get into camp as now there is a few months back work to make up, & the calls for papers are almost incessant. I made up the Muster & Pay Rolls to-day. We will receive part pay before we start home.

I will close for to-night; it is almost 11 o’clock. Charlie & I spent the evening with Hannah at the Major’s. All the boys are well & are making good use of the time looking around Washington. Remember me in love to all the family. Kiss Howard for Papa. May God bless you & keep you safe from harm until my return.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The XX Corps moved out with the First Division in the van and General Ward’s Third Division bringing up the rear. In Ward’s division, General Harrison’s 1st Brigade had the lead. The unarmed men were left to guard and move the knapsacks, camp, and garrison equipage to the new camps east of the Potomac. Marching by way of Columbia Pike, the corps passed Fairfax Seminary and Fort Richardson and crossed Long Bridge at 7 o’clock. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 563-64.
  2. Fort Lincoln was near the district line, a few hundred yards east of the Bladensburg Pike. James M. Richardson, a 36-year-old Brookline merchant, entered service on Nov. 20, 1863, as captain of Company H, 3d Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was promoted major on Nov. 30, 1864. In the spring and early summer of 1865, Major Richardson served as acting inspector general, Hardin’s division, XXII Corps, with his duty station at Fort Lincoln. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  3. Edward G. W. Cartwright, a 19-year-old Nantucket clerk, was mustered into service on Dec. 3, 1863, as a 2d lieutenant in Company H, 3d Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on Dec. 15, 1864, while stationed at Fort Lincoln. Ibid.
  4. Maggie Utley gave birth to a child, her third, in May 1865. Culver, “Robert Murphy and Some of His Descendants,” p. 129.
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New Fireworks Exhibit!

banner_fireworks

Summertime is almost here and what can be more summer-like than the 4th of July, picnics, parades and, most of all, fireworks! Come see our new fireworks display and get in the mood for summer!

Fireworks have a long and, dare I say, colorful history. Fireworks go back as far as 7th century China.  In 1292 Marco Polo took fireworks back to Italy where the Italians began to develop them as an art form. Settlers brought fireworks to the Americas in the 1600s, and the very first 4th of July celebration with fireworks was in 1777 – a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed. The earliest patents for fireworks go back as far as 1876.

There are a multitude of different fireworks, but they fall into three categories. Aerial fireworks include mortars, bottle rockets and Roman candles.  Proximate fireworks are often used indoors for concerts, theatrical presentations and movies. Ground-based fireworks include the familiar firecrackers, snakes, smoke bombs, and sparklers.

Fireworks_CrossSection

Firework cross section.

The beautiful colors of the fireworks come from various chemical compounds: red is strontium and lithium; blue is copper; silver or white is burning aluminum titanium and magnesium; orange is calcium; yellow is sodium; green is barium; and the neon green and turquoise are chlorine with barium or copper. Different chemicals also affect the appearance of fireworks in different ways. For example, aluminum creates the sparkler effect, glitter comes from antimony, calcium deepens the color, phosphorous creates glow in the dark effects and the smoke effects come from zinc.

Sound is also influenced by the chemicals used and by the shape of the firework tube. Perhaps surprisingly, the whistle effect is second only to flash powders in being the most hazardous firework effect.  Whistle combinations consist of potassium chlorate or potassium perchlorate as the oxidizer, with a salt of benzoic acid or a substituted benzoic acid. You’ll notice you see the fireworks before you hear the booms. That’s because light travels about a million times faster than sound. Those loud booms are actually sonic booms caused by the expansion of gases. You can calculate how far from the fireworks you are by counting the seconds from the time you see the firework until you hear the boom. To figure the distance in miles simply multiply the number of seconds by .o2.  

There are, not surprisingly, many safety regulations surrounding the production and handling of fireworks, but there are also interesting regulations for the storage of fireworks. One of the hazards of storing fireworks is static electricity.  Staff working in explosive buildings should not wear synthetic clothing or non-conducting footwear. Personnel should also discharge themselves before entering the building with an electrostatic discharger. There are also regulations for conduction, anti-static flooring and the humidification of the room.

Before safety regulations were enacted there were many accidents resulting in casualties. When the Treaty of Aix-la Chapelle was signed in 1748 celebrations were held all over Europe. The celebration in Paris had a mass explosion which led to the death of 40 people and over 300 injuries.  It was 1875 before the Explosives Act was introduced. The current Federal Explosives Law and Regulations is from 2012. Each state also regulates the use and availability of fireworks.

George Frederick Handel was commissioned to write an overture for the London celebration of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. He wrote Music for the Royal Fireworks, and this began the tradition of association between music and fireworks. For more information about creating fireworks displays and their environmental impact, check out Fireworks displays: explosive entertainment, by Dr. Tom Smith.

Coralville Fireworks 2013

Coralville Fireworks 2013

So, when and why were fireworks banned in Iowa? Fireworks were banned in 1937, following two incidents. In Spencer, Iowa someone lit fireworks in a store where they were being sold. That 1931 fire destroyed most of the downtown. Then, in 1936, a similar fire in Remen, Iowa caused about $600,000 in damages. Iowa’s ban includes all fireworks except sparklers, toy snakes and caps.

Want to try to make your own (safe) fireworks for the 4th of July? Make: has instruction for making your own Soda Bottle Rocket LED Fireworks! Check out Make: v.41 (2014:Oct./Nov.) or the Make website.

So, whatever your plans are for the 4th of July, check out our exhibit and have a safe 4th full of fun and fireworks!

 

Resources:

Conkling, John A. Chemistry of pyrotechnics : basic principles and theory. 2nd Edition. 2011. Boca Raton, FL : CRC Press. Engineering Library TP300 .C65 2011.

ENGN TP300 .R87 2009

ENGN TP300 .R87 2009

Soltis, Greg. When was the 4th of July first celebrated. Nov. 28, 2012. LiveScience.

Types of fireworks. FireworksLand. Date Accessed: May 2015

Wolcher, Natalie. How do fireworks make shapesJuly 1, 2011. LiveScience.

Allain, Rhett. The awesome physics in a simple sparkler. July, 4, 2014. Wired.

Helmenstine, Anne Marie. Chemistry of firework colors. Feb. 20, 2015. About Education.

Helmenstine, Anne Marie. Elements in fireworks. Dec. 5, 2014. About Educaton

Pappas, Stephanie. 5 fantastic fireworks facts. July 1, 2012. Live Science

Wolchover, Natalie. How do fireworks make shapes. July 1, 2011. Live Science.

De Antonis, Kathy. Fire. October 2010. ChemMatters.

Agrawal, J. P. (Jai Prakash). 2010. High energy materials : propellants, explosives and pyrotechnics. Weinheim : Wiley-VCH.  Engineering Library TP267.5 .A57 2010 

Smith, Thomas A.K. 2011. Firework displays : explosive entertainment. [Revere, MA] : Chemical Pub. Co. Engineering Library TP300 .F57 2011 

McLeod, Stacey. 10 fun facts you probably didn’t know about fireworks. Cottage Life. Date Accessed: May 2015.

How much does Disney spend annually for fireworks? Disneyquestions.com Date Accessed: May 2015.

Which fireworks are legal and prohibited in Iowa and Illinois July 3, 2014. WQAD8 Quad Cities.

ATF Federal explosives law and regulations2012. U.S. Department of Justice.

 

More Resources:

Philip, Chris. A bibliography of firework books : works on recreative fireworks from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. 1985. Wincester, Hampshire : Published by C. Philip, in association with St. Paul’s Bibliographies. Main Library Z5885 .P48 1985

Russell, Michael S. The chemistry of fireworks. 2009. Cambridge, UK : RSC Pub. Engineering Library TP300 .R$87 2009.

The sound of fireworks – whistles2015. Learn Chemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry.

Fireworks Glossary. UK Firework Review. Date Accessed: May 2015.

The Unexcelled Fireworks Company. July 2, 2013. Letterology.

History of Fireworks. 2001-2007. Pyro Universe. Date Accessed: May 2015.

“Underwater fireworks” reaction of chlorine and acetylene. December 17, 2012. YouTube.

The future of the theme park fireworksJuly 13, 2004. NBCnews.com

Chemical of the week: fireworks! scifun.org. Date Accessed May 2015.

The awesome physics in a simple sparkler. July 4, 2014. WIRED.

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China Data Online – Trial ends 17 June 2015

China Data Online includes China Statistical Databases, China Census Databases, and China Spatial Data Service (China Geo-Explorer). It provides easy access to the various statistical yearbooks published by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, comprehensive statistics, and Census data of economy and population at national, provincial, city, county, and even township levels.

Please send additional comments to Brett Cloyd.

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We are very busy preparing for the Review

Joseph Culver Letter, May 23, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Near Alexandria, Va., May 23d 1865
My Dear Wife

We are very busy preparing for the Review to-morrow, but I haste to write a few lines.1 I have recd. only three letters from you since our arrival here, but presume you thought we were cut off from communications & therefore did not write.

Sister Hannah did not get here on Sunday [the 21st]. It has been raining ever since our arrival until to-day. It is very warm, & we fear to-morrow will be a hard day. We leave here at an early hour as we have 8 or 10 miles to march before we reach Washington. Our day’s march can be little less than 20 miles, & much of the way in line which at best is very Severe.2 If it is warm as today, many a poor fellow will fall by the way.

We are all in good health. All necessary arrangements are being made for our muster out, yet we will hardly be able to leave here for a couple of weeks yet. I will write when we reach camp after the Review. I hope to hear from you more frequently. We are all well. Remember me in love to all.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Those that did not draw new clothes repaired and cleaned their old uniforms. Small arms and accoutrements were cleaned and polished, “and preparations made … to appear in a proper condition” for the review. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 258.
  2. Orders issued by General Sherman on the 20th called for soldiers of the Armies of the Tennessee and Georgia to be ready to march at daybreak. The men would fall out without knapsacks, with canteens and one day’s rations in haversacks. Understrength regiments would march in close columns of divisions, and the others in close columns of companies; the artillery in battery front, with close intervals. Regimental and headquarters pack mules would be led in close order in rear of the brigade ambulances. With the Army of the Tennessee in the lead, the columns were to cross Long Bridge and take position on Maryland Avenue at the foot of Capitol Hill and east of the canal. At 9 o’clock a signal gun would be fired, and the head of the column would move out, the units marching by close columns of companies, right in front, guide left. Passing around the Capitol to Pennsylvania Avenue, the column would proceed down the avenue, and past the reviewing stand in front of the White House. All colors would be unfurled from the Capitol to a point beyond the President’s reviewing stand. After passing in review, the units would proceed to their new camps, those of the Army of Georgia to be located northeast of Washington and those of the Army of the Tennessee northwest of the city. O. R., Ser. I., Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 526, 539-40.
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We are very busy preparing for the Review

Joseph Culver Letter, May 23, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Near Alexandria, Va., May 23d 1865
My Dear Wife

We are very busy preparing for the Review to-morrow, but I haste to write a few lines.1 I have recd. only three letters from you since our arrival here, but presume you thought we were cut off from communications & therefore did not write.

Sister Hannah did not get here on Sunday [the 21st]. It has been raining ever since our arrival until to-day. It is very warm, & we fear to-morrow will be a hard day. We leave here at an early hour as we have 8 or 10 miles to march before we reach Washington. Our day’s march can be little less than 20 miles, & much of the way in line which at best is very Severe.2 If it is warm as today, many a poor fellow will fall by the way.

We are all in good health. All necessary arrangements are being made for our muster out, yet we will hardly be able to leave here for a couple of weeks yet. I will write when we reach camp after the Review. I hope to hear from you more frequently. We are all well. Remember me in love to all.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Those that did not draw new clothes repaired and cleaned their old uniforms. Small arms and accoutrements were cleaned and polished, “and preparations made … to appear in a proper condition” for the review. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 258.
  2. Orders issued by General Sherman on the 20th called for soldiers of the Armies of the Tennessee and Georgia to be ready to march at daybreak. The men would fall out without knapsacks, with canteens and one day’s rations in haversacks. Understrength regiments would march in close columns of divisions, and the others in close columns of companies; the artillery in battery front, with close intervals. Regimental and headquarters pack mules would be led in close order in rear of the brigade ambulances. With the Army of the Tennessee in the lead, the columns were to cross Long Bridge and take position on Maryland Avenue at the foot of Capitol Hill and east of the canal. At 9 o’clock a signal gun would be fired, and the head of the column would move out, the units marching by close columns of companies, right in front, guide left. Passing around the Capitol to Pennsylvania Avenue, the column would proceed down the avenue, and past the reviewing stand in front of the White House. All colors would be unfurled from the Capitol to a point beyond the President’s reviewing stand. After passing in review, the units would proceed to their new camps, those of the Army of Georgia to be located northeast of Washington and those of the Army of the Tennessee northwest of the city. O. R., Ser. I., Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 526, 539-40.
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