Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Oldest Friend

My oldest friend, Philip Marshall Cavanaugh, sent this wonderful picture of himself the other day by way of marking his retirement from the commercial side of one of hobbies, the manufacturing and sale of Civil War era haversacks. Like me, Phil is still going, although he keeps going in the nineteenth century. We met in the Army. We became and remained close friends. Already then he was a walking encyclopedia of Civil War lore, and in the room we shared with several other men, we learned all about Robert E. Lee, Sherman, and the other stellar figures of that nation-defining event in American history—and also together listened to the great music of that era. Phil spent his post-military working life as a museum director at various distinguished establishments, ever deepening his understanding—while engaged as a member and participant in historical groups—not least an effective re-enactor of Civil War events. He appears here before us in the uniform of the Sons of Union Veterans—and signs himself as “Yer old buddy, Phil, sutler, retired.” Phil decided that it was time to draw back a little. He sold the splendid tent you see behind him—which occasioned this photograph.

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