Join us on November 8 when our speakers, Ross Kimmel and Mike Musick, describe life in the Point Lookout POW Camp as seen through the writing and drawings of Confederate soldier John J. Omenhausser.
Meeting time: 7:30 p.m., November 8, 2016
Location: Thomas Balch Library, 208 West Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia
Topic: “I Am Busy Drawing Pictures”: The Civil War Art and Letters of Private John Jacob Omenhausser, CSA
John Jacob Omenhausser’s work details his captivity in the Union Army’s prisoner-of-war camp at Point Lookout in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Omenhausser was born and reared in Baltimore, and his surviving work includes scenes from his teenage years, precaptivity scenes from the Confederate Army, and his time in Point Lookout as a prisoner. Many of these images related to daily life in prison, especially cooking and eating. However, the most striking feature of much of his work is its humor. Kimmel and Musick combined their research into Omenhausser’s life and career in the CSA with his drawings to produce a unique documentation of prisoner-of-war life at a Union Army camp.
Ross Kimmel is a native Marylander who developed an interest in the Civil War early in life. As a teenager, he joined a Civil War shooting and reenacting unit and participated in many reenactments during the Civil War Centennial, where he met his coauthor Mike Musick. Kimmel majored in history at the University of Maryland, holds a master’s degree, and worked for 36 years as the chief historian for the Maryland Park Service. While working for the park service, he learned about the Point Lookout prison camp and its resident artist, Pvt. Omenhausser.
Mike Musick was born in Long Island City, New York, and grew up in suburban Philadelphia. He has degrees in history from Roanoke College and Emory University and has written the volume on the 6th Virginia Cavalry that is part of the Virginia Regimental Histories series, among other things. He was an adviser to “The Civil War,” the Ken Burns television series. He retired in 2005 from the National Archives as subject area expert in the U.S. Civil War after 35 years with the agency. Since 1979, he has lived in Harpers Ferry, in a small brick house that served as a Union hospital.