Historical Issue Analysis and Decision-Making
At the end of the Civil War, William Oland Bourne, a New York social reformer, author, and editor, organized a “Left-hand Penmanship Contest.” Read the flyer calling for specimens of left-handed penmanship and the supporting letter from General O. O. Howard, who had his arm amputated at the battle of Fair Oaks. Other ranking military officers lent their support to Bourne’s philanthropy, including Brigadier General Joseph Hooker, who agreed to “pass judgment on the manuscripts.” Find and read some of the letters from veterans who submitted handwriting samples.
- According to Bourne, what were his reasons for sponsoring the Left-handed Penmanship Contest? What problem was he trying to solve?
- Why did General Howard decline to submit a specimen of his handwriting?
- How did Howard regard the contest?
- Do you think the contest was a good solution identified by William Oland Bourne? Why or why not?
Historical Issue Analysis and Decision-Making: Identifying and Evaluating Decisions Made in Running a Prison Camp
Point Lookout in Maryland was the largest Union prison camp. The first Confederate prisoners were brought to the camp after the Battle of Gettysburg. Read General Order 25 from the Head Quarters St. Mary's District, May 24, 1864, that instructed Union sentinels at Point Lookout to be vigilant about guarding prisoners.
…If the prisoner violently resists the Sentinel he will use his Arms in such way as may be necessary to overcome him, and if the prisoner attempts to run away, the Sentinel will fire upon him, always being careful, if possible, not to shoot in the direction of other prisoners. If the prisoner escapes by mingling with other prisoners, one of them will be taken to bear the punishment unless the offender be esposed [sic]….
From General Order No. 25
Use the Name Index to find John Jacob Omenhausser. Examine Omenhausser’s watercolors illustrating prison life at Point Lookout, Maryland.
- What discretionary power did General Order 25 give to sentinels at Point Lookout?
- Was the order reasonable? Explain.
- Based on the Omenhausser drawings, can you identify other decisions made by guards and other officials at Point Lookout?
- Based on the information you have gathered, did the commander of the Point Lookout prison make good decisions about running the camp? Why or why not?