Flanking movements: Dark Humor and sarcasm from the US Civil War

June 22, 1864 edition of The Soldier’s Journal

Originally posted here: Fog and Friction. Follow me there, if you’re into military history.

I stumbled across this last year while doing research for a paper. Soldiers often develop a dark humor as they cope with the exasperating extremes of a military campaign…from the intensity of combat, to the boredom in-between battles, and often in the face of perplexing leadership decisions.

This article was printed in the June 22, 1864 edition of The Soldier’s Journal, a Union-sympathetic newspaper, toward the end of the war. It demonstrates very well this dark humor, and the amazing resilience of the soldiers fighting the war. Below is a close up of the relevant portion. In case you can’t read it, here’s a transcript:

“The rank and file have a pretty good appreciation of the strategy of the campaign. They understand that it has been a series of splendid flank movements, and flanking became the current Joke with which to account for everything from a night march to the capture of a sheep or pig. A poor fellow, terribly wounded, yesterday, said he saw the shell coming,’but hadn’t time to flank it.’”

Bear in mind, this shell took the soldier’s arm off just the day before.

Close up of article.

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Traveling through war and time

Let’s do this again.

B24Liberator

The Sandman, B24 Liberator, photo by Jerry J. Joswick,

It’s been 8 months since my last post, and over a year since the last actual writing article. That’s…disappointing. True to what I stated in one of my final regular posts (that was 18 Sep 2013, for crying out loud), my writing time was devoured by my graduate program. Last August, I finally completed my master’s degree in military history. It was an intense program, and I am quite proud of the accomplishment. In fact, since graduating, I’ve been expanding on my final research paper in the hopes of submitting it to an academic journal or popular history magazine. Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I hope to write a book on the topic.

For the foreseeable future, I intend to focus on historical research and nonfiction writing. As you can imagine, writing history takes significant time in terms of research, let alone the actual composition. But as I’ve mentioned before, history is an exciting source of creative writing inspiration. I think that the slumbering The Desolation War stories will be all the better once I can return to them.

Vacuum2

My last short story was The Vacuum Isn’t Crazy About Nature, Either. It was also my most successful in terms of feedback and downloads.

I intend to keep The Weathered Journal active, as I still need a creative outlet that isn’t appropriate for my history blog, Fog and Friction. You’ll see short stories, flash fiction, occasional updates on Maladine, and anything else that I think can spark creativity. I also intend to share snippets of my nonfiction writing, and hope that you find it enjoyable as well. The comic strip President Jeff, which enjoyed an encouraging level of success, is on a bit of a hiatus since there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything we want. Jeff will return (we continue to develop story lines), but let’s just say he needs some more time at Martha’s Vineyard.

I’m curious if any of you writers out there also have nonfiction writing interests. If so, what? And if you’re primarily a reader, do you read both nonfiction and fiction?

Thanks for you continued encouragement and support. I admit I’ve been quite a blog and Twitter lurker over the past year and a half. I think it’s time to reintroduce myself. See you soon!

WEL

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The Geek is strong with this one

May the Fourth be with you! I hope you enjoy this fan tribute to the world’s best movie trilogy (yes, I meant to say it that way).

Panel 1a

Please take a moment and stop by President Jeff’s Page (linked through the strip above)  and check out what he and his administration have been up to!

WEL

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Start the week with a laugh…

President Jeff is published four times per week now, so we can start the week with a laugh. Sunday strips will usually be single-panel gags. I’ve noticed that they’ve been the most fun to write and draw. I think it’s because of the challenge of delivering set-up and punchline, and harmonizing it with a single image, to get the effect.

Portrait Hall6

Check out earlier strips on the President Jeff site! Plus, you can learn more about how this well-meaning but ludicrously under-qualified president came to power by checking out The Official Biography of President Jeff.

Have a great week!

WEL

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A morning laugh and a request to share

Good Tuesday morning!

Please bear with me, everyone. I promise that this blog isn’t a new political cartoon/webcomic site.  I’m truly excited about the President Jeff strip that I’ve helped to create, and am eager to get it some exposure. But we’ll be going back to our regular programming later this week.

In the mean time, if you’re interested, click the image  below or check out the President Jeff page now! If you follow along, you’ll see the strip evolve over the next few weeks (for the better). Now’s the time to get to know the characters!

Panel 1

 

Please enjoy! And of you like it, please subscribe and share.

WEL

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Meet President Jeff, Vice President Billy, and the other members of the new Administration’s inner circle

The President Washington needs, not the one it deserves. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

For the past week or so I’ve been talking about President Jeff, the new web comic I’ve helped bring to life. I’d like to invite you to learn a little more about the characters that make up this fictional administration.  They’re a collection of misfits in way over their heads. Some of them take it better than others. Please check out this new comic – I promise you’ll rarely regret it. Stop by, read, and share! And leave a comment!

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 President Jeff.

As always, thank you for your support and encouragement!

WEL

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“President Jeff,” a new collaborative web #comic, is now online!

WhiteHouseSouthFacade_SignA new administration starts today! Hate politics? So does President Jeff! Love politics? So does President Jeff! Conservative? Liberal? So does President Jeff. Wait…that’s not right.

Anyway, my co-creators and I are proud to present this comic to you. It’s mainly fun, with some occasional political flavoring. I’ll only highlight the first few strips on this blog, and then return to regular programming. In the mean time, please check out President Jeff’s first strip! It’ll run Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Because it is new, we’d be extremely grateful for any shares, follows, and comments. Especially that last one. Tell us what you think!

Have a great day!

WEL

 

 

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The new Web #Comic President Jeff starts tomorrow! You can check him out today!

President Jeff, the new web comic, kicks off tomorrow. But you can get to know the new president and his inner circle of misfits now!  

Sit RoomCheck out the new site, leave a comment, and share!

WEL

 

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Sneak Peek: My new favorite comic…because I helped make it.

For the past 13 months I have been neck-deep in academia and the world of military history as I work on my master’s degree. I love it. It’s a real passion, and I’ve learned more than I can say. The only downsides (aside from depleting any free time and making sleep even more precious) is that my pleasure reading and creative writing have all but vanished. I should graduate this September, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But the brain is an odd thing, and it’s been looking for a creative outlet.

That, in short, is what this post is about. Over the past few months some friends and I have collaborated – a few minutes here, a few minutes there – to bring life to something that was originally born for personal amusement. I’ll hold off on exactly how the idea went from offhand remark to what you see here, but I’m very pleased to introduce you all to President Jeff:

PJ_Sitting_at_Desk

President Jeff is a web comic that will be launched on 14 April. President Jeff is first and foremost a comic strip. Think “Dilbert” meets West Wing. Or maybe Harvey meets Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. With its mix of images and drawings, it’s a world as strangely inconsistent and absurd as the real one. I just hope you’ll enjoy it. While the strip is set within the world of politics, “President Jeff” is mostly absurdity. If there’s a consistent political focus, it’s on often baffling actions of our political leadership, and not any particular ideology. The authors are political moderates, and therefore will probably annoy everyone  at some point. But most of the fun is had at the expense of the primary characters. We think everyone, from the apolitical to the political junkies, from conservatives to liberals, will find something to enjoy here.

Splash

President Jeff and his Inner Circle.

As I said, the strip kicks off 14 April, but you can get a peek at what to expect now by visiting President Jeff’s blog page. There you’ll find a short introduction to how such a good-natured but clearly unqualified person attained the highest office in the land. Please follow the strip, leave comments, and share with your friends!

Hope to see you there.

WEL

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The Problem with Vampires (Part 2): the Best and Worst Vampires of all Time

Now that I’ve presumptuously declared the days of the terrifying vampire long gone, I

One of my favorites

One of my favorites

think it’s fair to ask, “Okay, smart guy. What are good vampire stories?” I’m glad you asked. A classic, truly scary vampire story must contain more than the threat of danger. It has to contain an invasion of the unknown. The vampire is something that the protagonists simply can’t get their minds around, because to do so promises madness. True, at some point the main characters have to accept what it is they’re up against, and I’d argue that this is the author’s (or director’s) greatest challenge: how to make mortal men and women willing to believe that the dead are hunting the living.

With that said, let’s talk vampires. I present to you a narrow, obviously subjective, and poorly researched history of the evolution of the vampire from chilling demon to dull sex symbol. This history may be wildly inaccurate, but I think it makes some valid points. It’s meant to be fun, so I hope I don’t offend anyone with differing opinions. Before we get stated, though, there is something I want to highlight. You’ll notice a Grand Canyon-sized omission in my list: Bella Lugosi isn’t on it. The reason for this is entirely due to my personal biases growing up. My first memories of Dracula on film were of Christopher Lee. When my parents introduced me to Bella Lugosi, the position was already being filled in my mind. I wanted nothing to do with Mr. Lugosi, because I was a Christopher Lee fan. The only time I would watch the original Dracula was when he was facing Abbot and Costello. So you can understand that, as unfair as it may be, I don’t place his iconic image on my list. Continue reading

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