D.C. Reasonoids: Interested in the Civil War? Come Hear Matt Welch Interview His Mom About Her New Book Yankee Warhorse Tonight at 6 PM, at the German-American Heritage Museum


The resemblance is striking

Peter Joseph Osterhaus was one of the most accomplished of the wave of "'48ers"–Germans who participated in the 1848-49 Rebellion, then fled their native land–to re-settle in the United States. He was also my great-great-great grandfather. Osterhaus was a Major General for the Union Army in the Civil War, military governor of Mississippi during the early days of Reconstruction, and later U.S. diplomat in Lyon and Mannheim (he also sired Hugo Osterhaus, who became rear admiral of the U.S. Navy). Now, for the first time, he is subject of a book, Yankee Warhorse: A Biography of Major General Peter J. Osterhaus, written by first-time author Mary Bobbitt Townsend, who is also my mother.

Tonight, May 28, Townsend will be speaking about Yankee Warhorse at Washington, D.C.'s new and very interesting German-American Heritage Museum, at 719 6th Street NW in Chinatown, just around the corner from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro stop. Reception, with drinks and snacks, begins at 6 p.m., followed by a Q&A conducted by yours truly. Of interest to Civil War buffs, Western theater completists, and those curious to hear more about how idealistic Germans helped tip the course of the war.

What: Reception and discussion for Mary Bobbitt Townsend's Yankee Warhorse.

Where: German-American Heritage Museum, 719 6th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20001.

When: Friday, May 28, 6-8 p.m.

Why: Learn about an important and undercovered Civil War general, visit a great new museum, and enjoy delicious snacks and drinks!


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  1. Why is the German-American Heritage Museum in Chinatown??

  2. Ask the Goethe Institute!

  3. Why don’t you and your mother share a surname? Did you ever

      1. The triumph of hope over experience.

        Thanks, I’ll be here all week. And that’s an end on’t.

      2. Isn’t that illeagal in all 50 states?

  4. Sweet!

    80-Year-Old Shoots and Kills Armed Intruder in Chicago…

    1. “It’s a good thing they had a gun, or they might be dead,” said Curtis Thompson, who lives next door to the couple

  5. Ask the Goethe Institute!

    Their automated answering system just rephrases all questions in “?????? is the ?????? of ??????” form.

    “Chinatown is the Germany of Washington.”

    (Goethe joke!)

  6. Matt Welch is German?!

    1. It’s the only German roots in the family tree (and also the most accomplished, and most military). Everything else is the usual Brit/Welsh mix, with maybe a tiny dash of Huegenot (sic)/Nova Scotia thrown in.

      1. Nova Scotia Acadia

        1. You lost, get over it.

          1. Lunenburg represent

            I can’t believe I’m seeing a reference to my hometown on H&R.

            1. ^
              From Rose Bay / Kingsburg actually, but nobody knows where the f*** that is.

              1. Rhodes Corner here… Small world

                1. Of course I usually round up to Lunenburg. Sounds more prestigious that way.

                  1. spent a summer there. Loved it.

        2. The Gobbler Likes This

      2. If we didn’t have two wars against Germany, this country will be falling all over themselves to find their German roots and claiming that O’Shaughnessy is actually a German last name, Achschunuzee. Instead, German roots is like herpes. Everyone has it but people pretend they don’t.

        1. There’s no shame about being German in Minneapolis. In fact, it is celebrated.

        2. My Grandma’s maiden was Kurtz and she had a charmingly poor grasp of English. I don’t care who knows it.

          1. the horror

            1. We German-Texans have a long, proud, and unique history that no one seems to be ashamed of. Heck, my family immigrated to South Carolina before the Revolution, migrated through Mississippi to Texas, and we’ve adopted the heritage of the Germans who immigrated to Texas, mostly because it’s much more interesting than ours.

              1. There were even Germans in South Carolina, and early. There’s an area called “Dutch Fork” which was a corruption of “deutsch”. Not much obvious heritage left over from that day other than a higher than average cluster of Lutheran Churches, and I’ve heard some surviving holiday culinary traditions.

  7. A 48er? Clearly, a long line of idealists.

  8. Congrats on your mom’s book.

    One question… with all your mother’s names, none of them match yours?

    1. Never mind, read upthread.

  9. Now we know were Matt Welch got his brain, what a rich family story there !

    1. That’s assuming it’s true. For all we know, the real title of the book should be A Million Tiny Warhorse Hairs.

  10. Matt, could you also ask your mother to dress you?

    1. Even *she* says “your mother dresses you funny.”

    2. Then how will we make valet jokes?

  11. This is the kind of cultural fest where some idiot declares that Pickett’s charge should have been done in the dark and a fist fight breaks out.

  12. “rear admiral ”


  13. Matt has a mom?!

  14. I keep reading “warhorse” alternately as “warehouse” and “whorehouse”. Time to go home.

    1. I keep reading it as “Yankee Whorehouse.” It piques my interest…then I read it correctly and I GBTW.

  15. Cwertainly Georgians know Gen. Osterhaus. He led XV Corps on Sherman’s march to the sea that made Georgia howl. Interesting that when he died he was buried in Germany instead of being brought home to the country he served so long and well.

    1. Not so strange, considering he A) kept dual citizenship, and B) he lived his last two decades or so in Germany. Where he wrote urgent letters to his rear admiral son about how the Kaiser wasn’t so bad, and it’s the damn Brits & French who were the real problem!

      1. This is from the website: Shortly before Osterhaus died he was appointed Major General, U. S. Army, becoming the last survivor of the Civil War at this rank.

        He died during the First World War…so the US Army promoted him while we were at war with Germany? Am I missing something?

        1. Was something to do with mollifying a class of disgruntled veterans (the volunteerists instead of the careerists) so that their pensions were closer to the latter, IIRC.

          1. That kinda thing happened in the Span-Am War, too. Former owner of my Grandmother’s house in S.C., the ex-Confederate Maj. General Matthew Calbraith, got himself a commission in the U.S. Army Volunteers as a Maj. Gen. in the Span-Am War, reportedly after he saw other ex-Confederate officers that he considered no-count and lousy get the same & figured he could do that good at least. War ended while he was on the way to Cuba & he ended up briefly acting as the military governor of Havana.

  16. Matt,
    Well we heard about your mother, well not all.
    Is this her first book, why did she write it now, does she have a degree, etc.
    What about your pops?
    Did your parents divorce or your father deceased?

    1. First book, because she was retired & interested, a cupla degrees, parents divorced, father’s still kicking, recently retired, aerospace engineer.

  17. Everyone knows that real libertarians only care about generals for the Confederacy.

  18. ANYONE who has even the slightest interest in the Civil War, is a racist!

    1. Not even the real Max could be that dumb. Close though.

      1. Not even the real Max could be that dumb.

        Just try him.

  19. History is racist.

  20. Or come to STL for the convention. I need help folding the tinfoil hats.

  21. Who want’s to bet Welch throws nothing by softballs! I would grill her like a salmon on a ceder plank.

  22. Who knew Matt’s mom would generate this much interest?

    If Nick ever told the story of how he got The Jacket, the internet would explode.

  23. Hey, he and Welch kinda share that crazy look in the eyes.

  24. Pish posh, everyone knows the Dutchmen fought like Italians.

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