Saturday, January 7, 2017

Coming February 2, 2017

North Shore Civil War Roundtable member Jeff Richman will discuss his book The Gallant Sims”: A Civil War Hero Rediscovered.  If you’re familiar with the phrase “the dustbin of history," you’ll shudder to learn that it’s almost where the extraordinary story of Brooklynite and Civil War Captain Samuel Sims ended up. But fate intervened. A cache of Sims's letters and personal drawings were rescued from the garbage in California and a trove of Sims’s photos and letters were discovered in a trunk in a Poughkeepsie basement. Who was Sims? The Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote that this citizen-soldier was “as brave a man as ever drew a sword.” In 1886, 22 years after his death at the Battle of the Crater, his former comrades banded together to pay for an extraordinary grave site monument at Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery.  A few years back, Jeff Richman, Green-Wood's historian, negotiated the purchase on behalf of The Green-Wood Historic Fund of the Sims Collection--objects and papers lovingly saved for more than a century by Civil War Captain Samuel Sims's descendants and his fiancée's family. In this book, Richman, using these unique items, letters, and other new discoveries, tells Sims's fascinating story with its many dramatic arcs: his loyal service and death in battle, the Confederate who returned Sims's sword, and the erection of his Green-Wood monument. This is the tale of a leader in war who was so admired by his men that they called him "The Gallant Sims." The twists and turns of this story are remarkable. And they are all here in this fascinating book about Captain Sims - published with the generous support of the Furthermore Foundation. 

Jeff Richman, a long-time trustee and member of the NSCWR, is Green-Wood Cemetery’s historian. Twenty-five years ago he started leading tours at Green-Wood—a place that combines so many of his interests: 19th century New York City, landscape design, sculpture, rural cemeteries, 19th century photography, contemporary photography, and more. He became its part-time historian in 2001 (while practicing law, representing indigent criminal defendants for 33 years) and its fulltime historian in 2007. He is the author of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery: New York’s Buried Treasure (1997), Final Camping Ground: Civil War Veterans at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, In Their Own Words (2007), and edited Green-Wood at 175 (2013). He has also been the curator for several gallery exhibitions, including three on the Civil War and one on Coney Island. Since 2002, he has been leading Green-Wood’s Civil War Project, which, through the work of hundreds of volunteers, has identified 5,000 Civil War veterans interred at Green-Wood, written an online biography for each, successfully applied to the Department of Veterans Affairs for 2,200 gravestones, and had them installed to mark formerly-unmarked graves.