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May 2006

May 7 * Guest Speaker- Historic Newburgh, Inc. Annual Preservation Awards Dinner, Newburgh, IN
Historic Newburgh, Inc. President Melissa McGuire, a surprised Ray Mulesky, and HNI Preservation Committee Chairman Frank Hijuelos

Nancy Lybarger, the Executive Director of Historic Newburgh, Inc., invited me to speak about the Newburgh raid at the Annual Preservation Awards Dinner put on by Historic Newburgh. Its sort of a final act to Newburgh's observance of National Historic Preservation Week. This was my first ever speech about the Newburgh raid given in Newburgh, Indiana. I've just been so busy that the time never seemed right. The time was certainly right on the evening of May 7. The dinner was held at La Veranda Restaurant on the Newburgh riverfront just twenty yards from where Adam Johnson's worn boots first crunched the pebbles of Indiana soil 144 years ago. It was an inspiring night.
          Many of the members of Historic Newburgh who attended were no strangers to the story of the raid, so I thought I'd talk a little about the many things that I've found out since Thunder From a Clear Sky was published. So, after dinner I got up and started talking about the subject I love. As usual, time got away from me and I went too long. I volunteered to keep my remarks to 20-25 minutes, Nancy said she planned me for 30 minutes, and I think I rattled on for 40-45 minutes. I guess I have to get into the habit of looking at my watch more often, but once I get going I'm not thinking about the time. I try to pack all I can into a short period, but I always think of things I accidentally left out while I'm driving home. Since I don't use notes anymore, every speech I give is tailored to the audience and the occasion. When the audience doesn't know much about the raid, I concentrate on the fundamentals. When the audience knows the general outlines of the raid, I try to hit some of the little known or unpublished quirks about the raid or the players.
          After dinner there were some announcements about some of the other events HNI was planning. Frank Hijuelos, a Newburgh City administrator and HNI Preservation Committee Chairman, came to the podium to give out an award. I was sitting there thinking to myself that someone was going to get a nice award from the Newburgh City Council, but that I probably wouldn't know who it was since I don't know all that many people in Newburgh. Honestly, I was sort of unwinding from the speech and maybe daydreaming a bit. When Frank was done reading the National Historic Preservation Week Proclamation he then said the recipient of the award was Ray Mulesky! I think I audibly said the word "What!?" but luckily not too loud. I was completely and utterly surprised. I had to tell myself to get up and receive the award or else I would have remained seated, stunned, for some time. I am so grateful to the Newburgh Council and the members of HNI for this award. I didn't see it coming, but I'm glad it did. I will cherish it always. As I tell everyone I know, you can only conceive a small part of the good that comes to you when you start following your dreams. This award is another one of those things that just never entered my mind.
PS- WIKY radio recorded my entire speech and I have their permission to post it on my web site. Stay tuned.

May 20 * Book Vendor- Battle of Sacramento Re-enactment, Sacramento, KY
Sacramento Cannon
The orange muzzle flash of a Rebel battery is visible in this shot from the Sacramento Battle re-enactment (taken by yours truly). By my count, there were 14 Rebel batteries and 5 Union batteries present. At the real battle there was no artillery present.

One of the reasons I thought the Battle of Sacramento re-enactment would be a good location for an appearance was the fact that Adam Johnson was at the original battle on December 28, 1861. This was the first Civil War battle that the famous Rebel cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest commanded. Johnson described the action as a completely disordered affair with Forrest urging his men ever onward into the wild melee. Late in the battle, Forrest fell from his horse after tumbling over two fallen enemy steeds. Adam Johnson quickly grabbed a free horse and gave it to Forrest.
          The day opened with clouds and drizzle. To me, this was a bad omen. However, we had good weather for the rest of the day- it even got hot and sunny for awhile. The Mollie Morehead Chapter of the UDC invited me to headquarter in their tent and it was a great location. Sue, Edna, and Nancy of the UDC spent the afternoon helping those who were researching Civil War veterans. I sold a good bunch of books throughout the day- not as many as I expected, but the attendance at the annual event was down a bit this year from previous turns. This was the 12th annual event. I made a few new friends at the event, for which I am grateful, and the members of Cobbs Battery dropped by to say hello. I was interviewed and will be posting some additional audio clips soon. Although the battle re-enactment was certainly impressive, and I had never seen such an array of thundering artillery, the best part about the affair was the welcoming, generous, good-hearted people of Kentucky. My thanks again to the Mollie Morehead UDC for their generous invitation. I had a great time. For a town of only 600 people, Sacramento, Kentucky, does everything it can to help the success of the event.

May 23 * Guest Speaker- West Central Indiana Civil War Roundtable Annual Dinner, Greencastle, IN
West Central Indiana Civil War Roundtable officers Ken Anderson (on my right) and Jim Buffington (on my left). Jim's family were the original owners of Buffington Island, Ohio, where John Hunt Morgan was nearly captured in 1863 during the Great Raid.

When Jim Buffington emailed me to speak at the West Central Indiana Civil War Roundtable I jumped at the chance. For a long time I knew I was going to speak at Greencastle, Indiana, but didn't look into where it was located. For those of you not familiar, Greencastle is about 40 miles southwest of Indianapolis. The town was founded in 1825 and it maintains its historic town square. It is a perfectly beautiful historic town. The home of Civil War veteran (and famous pharmaceutical founder) Eli Lilly. I hope it never changes. The Roundtable was extremely welcoming and about 35 or so people were in attendance at the Almost Home Restaurant. I walked around and tried to meet everyone before we started dinner and, as usual, I couldn't eat much. Right after dinner I was on and decided to walk the crowd through the fundamental events of the raid. I lost track of time as usual. I then got onto Adam Johnson's life after the war and took off for another 10 minutes. I ended with a few words about how the book has changed my life and how you shouldn't wait for the right time to put your dreams into action. You should put your dreams into action today- if not sooner. Someone came up to me afterward and told me the last part of the talk really struck a chord. I sold a few books and everyone seemed happy. I started home at 8:30 PM and got home before midnight. It took me about 15 seconds to fall asleep. A long and satisfying day. Thank you Jim Buffington and Ken Anderson! You made me feel at home even though I was 150 miles away.