Beauty in the Wilderness

Irises at Ellwood

Irises in bloom at Ellwood, on the Wilderness battlefield
May 10, 2018

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Remembering Sergeant Carney

CarneyOne hundred and eighteen years ago today—May 23, 1900—William H. Carney received the Medal of Honor for actions in July 1863 during the Civil War.  President William McKinley, who issued the Medal in the name of Congress (hence the oft-used misnomer “Congressional Medal of Honor”) was himself a Civil War veteran, having enlisted in the 23rd Ohio as a private in the war’s early days and rising to the rank of major by war’s end.  Hundreds of Medals of Honor were awarded to Civil War soldiers in the decades after the war.  In fact, some of the Civil War’s most famous recipients of the Medal did not receive it until many years later.  For example, Daniel E. Sickles and Joshua L. Chamberlain both received the award for actions at the July 1-3, 1863 battle of Gettysburg.  But Chamberlain did not receive the award until 1893, and Sickles waited until 1897 for his.

So Carney receiving his award decades after his action was not at all unusual.  What was somewhat out of the ordinary, though, was that Carney was African American.  In fact, because his action preceded those of other Medal of Honor recipients, Carney is considered the first African American to receive the nation’s highest award for military valor.  Continue reading

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Symposium Spotlight: The Twisting Turns of the Election of ’64—The Point of No Return


Rea Andrew Reddby ECW Correspondent Josh Svetz

Rea Andrew Redd has loved the Civil War all his life. Starting with reading Life magazine’s six-part series on the Civil War as a kid, Redd gets as much of a thrill from delving into the Civil War now as he did then. A hobby concerning the ghosts of the past may confuse some. Intrigue is one thing; obsession another. But Redd’s wife gave him some insight, at least, the closest thing he can think of to explain the fascination.

“I have the Civil War DNA,” Redd said. “When you find a hobby you’ve loved since nine years old, where does that come from? I guess I was just born with it.”

Redd will get to showcase his love for the Civil War Aug. 3-5 at the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge in Spotsylvania, Virginia.  Continue reading

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“The Forlorn Hope”

Forlorn Hope assault Vicksburg

The May 22 assault at Vicksburg

by Andrew Miller

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, I cannot help but reflect about the great sacrifices our men and women have made for our great country. Like many of the followers of Emerging Civil War, the great contest for our nation’s survival is always on my mind. This particular holiday weekend is especially exciting as it is the culmination of my duties on Liberty Island, New York Harbor, where a colossal roman goddess with her tablet in one hand and torch held high in the other stand on a pedestal of Connecticut granite.

A career change and lateral movement to Vicksburg National Military Park now consumes my every thought. And as I begin to pack my uniform items away, clear my locker out of wonderful mementos and folded-up paper schedules from weeks past, and carry numerous bags of items on the subway, I realized it is the 22nd of May.

155 years ago Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee was unleashing an all-out assault along the entire Confederate entrenchments surrounding Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Continue reading

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Shamed at Sharpsburg: The Court Martial Case of Alfred Ransom Courtney

A postwar portrait of Alfred Ransom Courtney
(courtesy of George Seitz,

As September 17, 1862, wore on, Robert E. Lee realized he would need as much help as he could find. Robert Chilton, a staff officer of Lee’s, wrote a dispatch in the midst of the battle to artillery chief William Nelson Pendleton, requesting “fifteen or twenty guns, suitable for our purposes…with a sufficiency of ammunition.” Lee stressed to Pendleton: “We want ammunition, guns, and provisions” as the battle intensified.[1]


One artillery officer who had plenty of capacity to help Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia in this respect on September 17 commanded a battalion of artillery (four batteries)—Maj. Alfred Ransom Courtney. The 28-year-old major’s roots in North America dated back to 1620. “With an ancestry in whose veins flowed Scotch and English blood so pure,” wrote one of Courtney’s associates, it was no surprise that Courtney “developed in a high degree characteristics of intelligence, integrity and courage.” Courtney passed his bar exam before the Civil War began. He became a lieutenant in one Confederate battery at the outset of the war before receiving command of his own battery in July 1861.[2] Continue reading

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A Poet’s Perspective: On Stonewall Jackson’s Death


“I have always desired to die on Sunday.” — General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.

On May 2, 1863, shots rang out from the 18th North Carolina line in the woods at Chancellorsville. Unbeknownst to the soldiers at the time, they were firing upon their own men, including their beloved commander General Stonewall Jackson.  The General suffered from three bullet wounds, the most dangerous, just below his left shoulder. Unfortunately for the General the wound was irreparable, and as a result the arm was amputated.  By May 4th, however, it seemed Jackson was recovering, and all seemed relieved, but a happy ending this was not. Jackson awoke on May 6th with nausea, when his physician, Dr. Hunter McGuire awoke he discovered that the general’s health had take a drastic turn for the worst, as he diagnosed him with pneumonia.  Continue reading

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That Field of Blood: The Story of the Battle that Changed the Nation

Vermilya-mugshot.jpgBy ECW Correspondent Nicholas Youngs

That Field of Blood: The Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, the newest release in the Emerging Civil War Series, was a story Dan Vermilya has always wanted to write, due in part to his personal interest in the battle—and his personal connection.

“It’s always important to be engaged in what you’re writing,” said Vermilya. “If you’re not engaged with the topic it just won’t resonate.”  Continue reading

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Don’t Forget! First ECW Pop Up Tour

Our first ever ECW Pop Up Tour, led by Kevin Pawlak and Dan Welch, will take place this Saturday, May 26, at Antietam National Battlefield. The tour will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information, you may click here. The cost of the tour is $20 and all proceeds will go toward preservation work with Civil War Trails. You may click on the button below to reserve your spot.

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Question of the Week: 5/21-5/27/18

You may have noticed Chris Mackowski participate in the recent American Battlefield Trust Facebook Live Videos for the 155th Anniversary of the Vicksburg Campaign.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the Siege of Vicksburg? (At any time, not limited to the recent videos)

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National Park Records Release

The National Park Service this week released decades of park records for public search and use. Their press release reads as follows:

The National Park Service (NPS) today unveils a newly launched public website: that is making more than 32,000 NPS records available to the public. Academic researchers, students, history enthusiasts, educators, and the like will discover a multitude of collections.  Continue reading

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