Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bench-Clearing Civil War Brawl. . .?

Robert Grandchamp, the hands-down, go-to guy for all things related to Rhode Island in the Civil War, recently sent me the following little snippet concerning a rather forgettable incident concering the 48th Pennsylvania. The story comes to us from Captain J.W. Grant's short work, The Flying Regiment: Journal of the Campaign of the 12th Rhode Island Volunteers, published by Sidny S. Rider & Bro., Providence, R.I., in 1865. The 12th was brigaded with the 48th following the battle of Antietam, although this incident occurred in March 1863. For some reason, it did not appear in either of the 48th's two regimental histories. I wonder why???
"The camp of the Twelfth Rhode Island Volunteers. . .was the finest looking camp on the ground. The streets were well laid out, and were kept swept clean. The tents were new, and presented a neat, uniform appearance.
There was a great improvement in the regiment after coming here. We were well clothed, and as finely equipped as any regiment in the field. We also had the Springfield rifled musket, which is considered the best in the service.
While at this place, we had a fray in camp, which came near being a serious affair. I was in the qautermaster's tent the evening of the 5th of March, when at eight o'clock our orderly came in, telling us our company had received a visit from the 48th Pennsylvania, a regiment adjoining, who came provided with clubs and stones, to settle some difficulty which had occurred between them and some of our boys.
We had some rough fellows in our company, and upon the Pennsylvania boys making their appearance, at it they went. After a few rounds the intruders retreated. No one of our company was dangerously wounded; a few slight cuts about the head and ears included the whole list of casualties. Soon after this affair, I returned to my quarters and turned in, hoping to have a good night's rest. In about half an hour we were apprised of another visit from our neighbors. Out our boys rushed, crying Turn Out! Turn Out! Drive 'em! Drive 'em! At the same time, we could hear the clubs strike against the sides of our tents. Immediately after I heard Captain Hubbard rush along, and soon after the report of a pistol, one, two, three, followed by the report of a rifle, assured me that it was time to pull on boots and prepare for battle. Upon coming from my tent I found the tumult had subsided. Our lieutenant-colonel came along, we were all ordered to our quarters, and the guard being called upon, this fray, which promised something serious, was finally quelled. I did not hear that any one was seriously hurt.
The next morning, as I lay in my tent, looking out upon the street, a party of three or four stopped in for a talk. Soon one of them began to show symptons of a strange nature, and directly over he went upon his back. In connection with the affair of the past night, I began to think things were coming to a crisis. However, the man, who to all appeared dead, by dint of hard rubbing, applied by those gathered around him, was at length brought to and carried off."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beware the People Weeping. . .

For whatever reason, while watching The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth the other night, I couldn't help but think about a course I took eight years ago during my final semester at Kutztown University. It was an elective for me, an English/Literature course, titled "The Times of Melville and Whitman," which focused on the golden age of American literature (circa 1840-1870). We analyzed the works of Poe, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and, yes, Walt Witman and Herman Melville all in an effort to understand their various styles and, more importantly to me, their lives and times.
During one particular class session, we looked at some of the poetry that came out in the aftermath of Lincoln's assassination. Walt Whitman's pieces, i.e. Oh! Captain, My Captain, and When the Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, are the most famous these works, but so drawn was I to a post-assassination poem penned by Herman Melville, that I used it as a basis for my required, ten-page essay due at the end of the semester. No other poem, at least as far as I was concerned, captured the sentiment of the American people better in the immediate wake of Lincoln's murder than The Martyr, which had as its subtitle, "Indicative of the Passion of the People on the 15th Day of April, 1865." In this poem Melville draws parallels between Lincoln and Christ, and makes it clear that he, as well as most in the North, considered Lincoln's killing to be the work not of one man, but of the Confederate States government. In it, Melville seems unable to control his anger and also hints at his hope that stern measures be taken by "The Avenger" (read Andrew Johnson) to punish the South, not only for the murder of Lincoln, but for the devastation and destruction caused by their rebellion.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Martyr
By Herman Melville

Good Friday was the day
Of the prodigy and crime,
When they killed him in his pity,
When they killed him in his prime
Of clemency and calm--
When with yearning he was filled
To redeem the evil-willed,
And, though conqueror, be kind;
But they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And they killed him from behind.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

He lieth in his blood--
The father in his face;
They have killed him, the Forgiver--
The Avenger takes his place,
The Avenger wisely stern,
Who in righteousness shall do
What the heavens call him to,
And the parricides remand;
For they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And his blood is on their hand.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln ranks easily among the most heinous acts of American history. For the man who guided the nation through its darkest and most trying ordeal, and who, perhaps more than any other single person, helped bring an end to the barbaric institution of human slavery to be gunned down just days after the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Robert E. Lee's once vaunted and seemingly invincible Army of Northern Virginia was a remarkable tragedy that still beggars description. John Wilkes Booth--vain, delusional. . .a man so committed to his beloved Confederacy that he would do anything for it, except fight--was a villain, his act a cowardly one. Yet in spite of all of this, or perhaps because of it, the assassination and its larger conspiracy to cripple the United States in its moment of triumph by striking down its top leaders, plus the epic 12-day manhunt for Booth, remain among the most fascinating--and most thrilling--aspects of not just the Civil War, but of all American history. And it is because of this, that I agreed several weeks back to review a History Channel documentary, titled The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth.

I am certainly not alone in being fascinated by the assassination and its larger conspiracy; the number of books concerning the assassination are legion. But while the killing of Lincoln has been thoroughly covered, and the details known well to most, the immediate aftermath of the slaying and the monumental manhunt for Booth still remains relatively unexplored, only recently receiving full and fair treatment. It must be remembered that Booth's plot included not just the killing of Lincoln, but also Vice President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of State William Seward, and, had he decided to take up Lincoln's offer to join him that evening at Ford's Theater, General U.S. Grant. Keep in mind, too, that at the time of the slaying, the American Civil War was not yet over. Lee's army had surrendered and Richmond had fallen, but Jeff Davis and the members of his Cabinet were still on the loose, and several Confederate armies remained in the field.

Through historical reenactments and recreations, combined with expert commentary from noted historians (including the emminent Doris Kearns Goodwin), the History Channel's The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth does a great job at explaining the assassination and in documenting the largest manhunt in U.S. history. It does a good job at capturing the emotions of the time, which were largely shock and outrage followed soon after by profound mourning. And not just in the North, but throughout the South as well. Most in the former Confederacy knew that Lincoln would be their best friend in efforts at Reconstruction and reconciliation. The filming of this documentary at historic sites related to Booth's escape, i.e. the Samuel Mudd House, Surratt's Tavern, etc, makes it all the more compelling. For those who have not yet seen The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth, I would highly recommend that you do so. More information can be found here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


June 19 is celebrated throughout the United States as either Juneteenth, or Emancipation Day. It was on this date in 1865 that U.S. General Gordon Granger announced to a group of slaves in Galveston, Texas, that they were free and slavery a thing of the past.
Today, 17 states formally observe Juneteenth while some, including Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, have called for this date to be recognized as a Federal Holiday.
Click here, here , and here for more information on Juneteenth.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Some South Mountain Snapshots. . .

Yesterday, fellow ranger and fellow blogger Mannie Gentile and I took a short trip up to South Moutain, an excursion we planned last week. What a perfect day weatherwise to tramp around some Civil War battlefields! It was rather cool and blue skies overhead.
I met Mannie in Boonsboro and we followed one another to Turner's Gap. The plan was to leave one vehicle there, while we hopped in the other, drove down to Fox's Gap and hiked back to the Appalachian Trail parking lot at Turner's. So I left my car--and jumped in his.
We reached Fox's Gap and journeyed first to the Reno Monument on the summit. . .
Major General Jesse Reno, commanding the Federal 9th Corps, was struck down near twilight on September 14, 1862, while encouraging his men to advance. . .There is some whispers still persisting that Reno was shot by friendly fire, but most today discount this idea.
Mannie and I next hiked several hundred yards to the south, and visited the recently dedicated (October 2003) monument to North Carolina soldiers. . .
North Carolinians in Brigadier Generals Samuel Garland's and George B. Anderson's Brigades were heavily engaged at the battle for Fox's Gap, suffering high casualties.
Turning around we hiked across the very same ground as the soldiers in the 48th PA, all the while I was explaining their movements and experiences (ad naseaum) to Mannie. . .who was, as always, a good sport about it. The photograph below is of the field over which the 48th advanced.
Captain James Wren, of Company B, led his men as skirmishers across this field and upon reaching the distant treeline, came under fire from Confederate soldiers in John Bell Hood's division.
We hiked along the Appalachian Trail, northward back to Turner's Gap, and my vehicle. I was struck at just how sheer the slopes of South Mountain are here, and found it difficult to imagine troops manuevering along these slopes and through the trees.
As Joe Hooker, commanding the Federal 1st Corps in its attacks up South Mountain and toward Frostown Gap, wrote: "In front of us was South Mountain, the crest of the spinal ridge of which was held by the enemy in considerable force. Its slopes are precipitous, rugged, and wooded, and difficult of ascent to an infantry force, even in absence of a foe in front."
A narrow path connects Fox's and Turner's Gaps.
Here's my colleague Mannie atop the very spine of South Mountain.
We at last arrived back at Turner's Gap and I grabbed a quick photograph of the Old South Mountain Inn/Mountain House, where Confederate general D.H. Hill made his headquarters.

We then hopped back in my car and. . .after a little setback driving toward Middletown, don't ask. . .we headed on down to Crampton's Gap and to Burkittsville, where the 48th's Schuylkill County neighbors in the 96th Pennsylvania were heavily engaged. . .

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pottsville Mural to Feature Biddle, Reid. . .

A "Welcome to Pottsville" mural, to be painted at the intersection of Centre and Nichols Streets, will feature two Schuylkill County Civil War figures: Nicholas Biddle and Sergeant Robert Reid of Company G, 48th Pennsylvania.
You can read the full story here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thanks. . .

For the past year and a half, Laurie Chambliss and Joe Avalon over at Civi War Interactive have commentated weekly on my blog and have honored me by including it as one of CWI's Recommended Blogs. Today I discovered that they will no longer be updating their site's "This Week in Civil War Blogs" (TWIB) feature.
I would just like to extend my gratitude for their kindness and recognition, and want to wish them the very best in all of their endeavors.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Speaking Engagement. . .

I'll be heading off to Jersey in several weeks to deliver a program for the Robert E. Lee Civil War Roundtable of Central New Jersey. I will be speaking on the Maryland Campaign and, specifically, the battle of Antietam (of course). But what I intend to do is present the battle in a different light, and address all those persistent myths (i.e. McClellan had 30,000 men in reserve) that need to go away. In particular, I will spend a lot of my time discussing poor old Ambrose Burnside and the men of his 9th Corps. Burnside has received too much unwarranted criticisms for the handling of his troops and his alleged lethargy in carrying out his afternoon assault. So with that in mind, I hope to correct the record in some small way arguing that Burnside had the most difficult assignment of any of Mac's subordinates, and that he did a commendable job in carrying out his orders. I will also present the rather novel concept that McClellan was no villain, and that Lee was no saint. . .or wait, maybe I should refrain from criticizing the Confederate army commander since I will be speaking at the Robert E. Lee Civil War Roundtable.
The Robert E. Lee Roundtable of Central New Jersey is one of the largest on the East Coast, with over 200 members, and is headed by Jay Jorgensen of Gettysburg Wheatfield fame. My program is scheduled for the night of July 2, and because this is the first time I will be presenting this particular Antietam program, I am just a little bit anxious. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

48th Pennsylvania Casualties at Cold Harbor: June 1-4, 1864

The Battle of Cold Harbor, Alfred Waud. . .
I am a little behind with this posting. I originally intended to post it earlier this week to coincide with the 144th Anniversary of the battles near Cold Harbor, Virginia. The 48th Pennsylvania was heavily engaged in this battle, especially on June 3, 1864, in attacks against the Confederate left flank. The following is the list of casualties sustained by the 48th Pennsylvania in action at Cold Harbor. . .
The Battle of Cold Harbor, Kurz & Allison
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Killed/Mortally Wounded (16)
Patrick Farrell (Co. C)
Sergeant Thomas Tosh (Co. E)
David Williams (Co. E)
Daniel E. Reedy (Co. E)
Edward G. Pugh (Co. F)
William Smith (Co. F)
James Bradley (Co. F)
Corporal Alexander Govan (Co. G)
James Allison (Co. G)
Joseph Alexander (Co. H)
Jeremiah Willoner (Co. I)
John Clark (Co. I)
William J. Price (Co. I)
Benjamin B. Kershner (Co. I)
George Dresh (Co. I)
Jacob Lauby (Co. K)

Corporal Alexander Govan, Company G, was among the killed at Cold Harbor

Wounded (55)

William Koch (Co. A)
George Betz (Co. A)
John Hegg (Co. A)
Simon Snyder (Co.A)
Elias Lins (Co. A)
Corporal Monroe Heckman (Co. A)
J.D. Ash (Co. A)
Samuel Eckroth (Co. A)
Israel Britton (Co. A)
Sergeant Samuel Strauch (Co. B)
Sergeant Robert Campbell (Co. B)
1st Lieutenant P.C. Loeser (Co. C)
2nd Lieutenant William Clark (Co. C)
John Dolan (Co. C)
Thomas Boyle (Co. C)
Daniel Boyer (Co. E)
John Clemens (Co. E)
Robert Beverage (Co. E)
Patrick Brennan (Co. E)
Charles Quinn (Co. E)
Albert Cummings (Co. E)
Abraham Sigmund (Co. E)
Sergeant James Easton (Co. F)
Corporal Robert Padden (Co. F)
George H. Jones (Co. F)
Jacob Kuhns (Co. F)
William E. Duffy (Co. F)
Cyrus Haines (Co. F)
James Hoult (Co. F)
Sergeant C.F. Kuentzler (Co. G)
Corporal John Hutton (Co. G)
William Martin (Co. G)
John Benedict (Co. H)
Sergeant Henry Burnsteel (Co. H)
Corporal Henry Matthews (Co. H)
Corporal William Lloyd (Co. H)
Joseph Hayes (Co. H)
Anthony O’Donnell (Co. H)
James Welsh (Co. H)
William Davis (Co. H)
Edward Metz (Co. H)
1st Sergeant Oliver A. J. Davis (Co. I)
Sergeant Jacob Ongstadt (Co. I)
Corporal Elias C. Kehl (Co. I)
Peter Keller (Co. I)
William Owens (Co. I)
John H. Cooper, Jr. (Co. I)
Isaac Beltz (Co. I)
Charles Gould (Co. I)
Martin Dooley (Co. I)
Thomas J. Reed (Co. I)
H.W. Hass (Co. K)
Milton Nagle (Co. K)
William G. Keiser (Co. K)
Thomas Hudson (Co. K)

Friday, June 6, 2008

DISSED: The Best of the Worst in Civil War Nicknames

The generals of the American Civil War sure had their fair share of nicknames.

Most of the time they were complimentary and affectionate--i.e. "Stonewall" Jackson, "Uncle John" Sedgwick, "Uncle Billy" Sherman etc--but oftentimes they were not; indeed, some were downright insulting.

I thought I'd take a look today at some of the less than flattering nicknames of some of the war's Union and Confederate leaders.

Vote for your favorite in the comments section, or add your own to the list. I am sure there are scores I forgot. . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
There were so many officers given derogatory sobriquets for their perceived caution and lethargy in bringing troops to the front. . .

Take George Sykes, for example. He was known as "Tardy George."
"Yeah, yeah. . .I'm getting there. Just let me finish the funnies."
* * * * * * * * * *
Or how about George Thomas? Sure, he had several, more famous, nicknames such as "Pap" or "The Rock of Chickamauga," but he was also known in some circles as "Slow Trot."

"I dare you to come over here and call me Slow Trot to my face."
* * * * * * * * * *
Henry Warner Slocum was a steady, reliable officer. . .it's too bad his last name could turn easily into "Slow Come."
"Oh yeah, REALLY funny, you guys. Did you think of that all by yourselves?"
* * * * * * * * * * *
Poor old Abner Doubleday's surname gave fodder to his critics.
He was "Old Forty-Eight Hours."
"Wait, what do they call me? Old Forty-Eight Hours? I don't get it."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Like George Thomas, even some of the more illustrious--and more brilliant--generals of the Civil War had their detractors and their own nasty nicknames.
While Robert E. Lee was known by many complimentary sobriquets, he was, at least early in the war, sometimes referred to as "The King of Spades," or "Granny Lee."
"Granny. . .? Well of all the nerve. Can you believe these young whippersnappers these days?"
* * * * * * * * * * *
Thomas Jonathan Jackson had perhaps the most famous nickname of the Civil War: Stonewall. But in his younger days, he was sometimes called "Tom Fool" by his students at VMI, or by some of his soldiers as 'That Crazy Old Presbyterian Fool."

"If you put as much energy and effort into your schoolwork as you do in coming up with nicknames for me. . . Now go study the Bible and see what that has to say about making fun of people."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Winfield Scott orchestrated one of greatest campaigns in American military history during the Mexican-American War. . .but by the Civil War, he was simply "Old Fuss-n-Feathers."
"Whatever. Whose the one who has all this bling? I rule, critics drool."
* * * * * * * * * *
Ulysses S. Grant. Well, of course there was "Unconditional Surrender" Grant and, more affectionately "Sam" Grant. But there was also "Useless" Grant and "Grant the Butcher."
"The name's Hiram, thank you very much."
* * * * * * * * * * *
I'm not sure if George Gordon Meade had any nicknames, but one detractor famously labeled him as that "damned old, goggle-eyed, snapping turtle."
"Hey! Hey! You get over here! Come on, Brady, hurry up. I need to deliver an old school lesson in respect to that clown."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
There were many other nicknames worthy of honorable mention. . . .
John Bell Hood. . ."Old Wooden Head"
William Lowther Jackson. . .unlike his more famous cousin, William was known as "Mudwall."

Apparently, William E. Jones loved to gripe and moan and complain. Hence his nickname: "Grumble." Another Jones, David Rumph Jones, of no relation, was much more affectionately referred to as "Neighbor."

Hugh Judson Kilpatrick? More like Hugh Judson "Kill Cavalry."

Ben Butler was an ardent abolitionist and is thus alright by me in my books. But he was vilified throughout the South as "Spoons," for his penchant for stealing exquisite silverware and china from Southern homes, and the "Beast."

Poor Old William Henry French had a habit of incessantly batting his eyes when he spoke. He was known thus as "Old Blinky."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

These are just some of the less-than-flattering Civil War nicknames I can think of. If you have any for me to add. . .let me know.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Storm Ravages Antietam National Battlefield. . .

Click over to my buddy Mannie's blog to see photographs of the devastation left behind at the Antietam National Battlefield following severe storms that swept through the area yesterday:

More information about the storm and its wreckage can be found on the Hagerstown Herald Mail website:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In Case You Missed It. . .

. . .here is an excerpt from Senator Barack Obama's historic speech delivered last night in the wake of his historic nomination to run for the presidency of the United States:

In our country, I have found that. . .cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.
So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and ANTIETAM their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.


The Charles Baber Cemetery is the largest in the city of Pottsville. Buried here are hundreds of Civil War veterans, including Joshua K. Sigfried and Henry Pleasants, both commanders of the 48th, and the latter the mastermind of the Petersburg Mine.

Sadly, it seems as though every year Baber is the target of vandals. It happened again this past weekend.
You can read the story here:

What is wrong with some people?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Live Civil War Artillery Shell. . .in Pottsville?

My good friend--and fellow Schuylkill County Civil War historian--Tom Shay brought the following story to my attention.

As it turns out, the son of the late Leo Ward, the long-time head of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County who passed away two weeks ago, donated several items of Leo's personal collection to the society including an unexploded Hotchkiss shell. . .

3" Federal Hotchkiss Shell (flatnose), missing sabot.

Here is the complete story as reported in yesterday's Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald:

Bomb squad removes Civil War-era shell from Schuylkill County Historical Society
Published: Sunday, June 1, 2008 9:32 AM

"A bomb squad from Fort Drum, N.Y., removed a Civil War-era artillery round Saturday from the county historical society.

The unexploded Hotchkiss shell filled with black powder and made to fit a 3-inch ordinance rifle, was donated to the Historical Society of Schuylkill County, 305 N. Centre St., Pottsville, this week by the estate of Leo L. Ward.

Ward was a longtime president of the historical society who died May 17, according to David Derbes, acting president of the society.

Ward’s son, David, cleaned out Ward’s apartment on the 600 block of Mahantongo Street and donated historical items to the society, Derbes said. Among them was the antique round.
'It’s like a tin can, three inches in diameter and seven inches long. It contains powder and little shots,' Derbes said.

Markings on one end of it stated it was made in 1862.

While visiting the society Friday, J. Stuart Richards, Orwigsburg, a Civil War historian, encouraged Derbes to get rid of it.

'As soon as I picked it up, and saw it was a Hotchkiss with the date of 1862 on it, I wasn’t sure if it was an active round or what they call a canister round. But rather than be safe than sorry, we contacted Pottsville police,' Richards said.

Derbes contacted Pottsville police Chief Joseph H. Murton V and Murton made the arrangements to have the bomb squad remove it.

Sgt. Ryan Jaminet of the 725th Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Fort Drum walked to the second-floor storage room, where the round was sitting in a cardboard box. Jaminet picked up the unexploded shell with his bare hands and carefully placed it in an ammunition can.

'That will at least stabilize it,' Derbes said.

The round probably wouldn’t ignite if dropped, he said.

'Black powder is not as sensitive to friction as other things. More so to flame. While it’s a little bit more stable, it’s a little bit more dangerous than some other things,' Jaminet said.

A spark would probably set it off, Jaminet said.

The round was taken to Fort Drum.

'We’ll probably dispose of it on the range,' Jaminet said.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again!

Looking for a great gift for that Civil War enthusiast in your family? Want to treat yourself to a week chock full of all things Civil War?

Then I know of just the thing for you.

The Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours is offering a five-day, extensive look at the battle of Gettysburg to take place on July 23-27. Antietam Park Historian Ted Alexander orchestrates these incredible--and highly educational--seminars each year, and this year's Gettysburg event, which coincides with the battle's 145th Anniversary, promises to be a good one. A brief blurb of the event from the Chambersburg CWST website describes this upcoming seminar as: "5 days of tours, talks, panels and other special events, including a visit to the new Gettysburg Visitors Center. Featuring Ed Bearss, Kent Masterson Brown, Pat Falci, Gary Kross, Wayne Motts, Andy Waskie, Jeffry Wert, Eric Wittenberg, and others. Tours include Stuart's Ride to Gettysburg, Eisenhower's Gettysburg, and the Making of the Movie "Gettysburg" and much more."

I was fortunate enough last year to be included in Ted's Antietam seminar, which was a great thrill.

For more information, please visit:

So, if you've received your economic stimulus check and are not quite sure how to spend it. . . then let me suggest you register for this star-studded event.