The Ballad of Black Bess

[Editor’s Note: With all that’s happening about Confederate monuments these days, it’s all right to remember a time when monuments to Confederate heroes became a source of humor.]

Robert E. Lee had Traveller and Stonewall Jackson his Little Sorrel. Bedford Forrest rode King Philip, and that other famed Confederate cavalryman, John Hunt Morgan, had Black Bess.

When I was in college at Emory, the late great Professor Bell Wiley gave me a leaflet, “The Ballad of Black Bess,” which the director of the University of Kentucky Press had given him.

In 1911, on the courthouse lawn in Lexington, Kentucky, was dedicated a fine equestrian monument to General Morgan, nobly mounted on Black Bess. The Yankees captured her at one point, and we don’t know what happened to her. Continue reading

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Symposium Spotlight: Dranesville

Welcome back to another installment of our 2019 Emerging Civil War Symposium Spotlight. This week’s sneak peak comes to us from longtime ECW member Ryan Quint. Ryan has spent a lot of time researching the forgotten battle of Dranesville. Today he shares just a small sample of what he will be exploring in August. Continue reading

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George B. McClellan Papers Now Available Digitally

Say what you will about George McClellan– a great organizer, though timid in combat; beloved by his soldiers though a bane to Lincoln’s cabinet. Or maybe you’re an avid McClellan devotee, who defends the Young Napoleon to any passerby you come into contact with.

No matter what camp you fall into, the Library of Congress has recently digitized and made available online McClellan’s papers. They are to, to state the obvious, a goldmine of material.

Continue reading

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From West to East – John Pope and Counter-Insurgency, Part II

(Part II in a series)

In June 1862, John Pope assumed command of the Eastern Theater’s newest army made up of disparate forces – the Army of Virginia. Unfortunately, Pope’s strong ego and dislike for the Army of the Potomac’s popular commander George B. McClellan (at least with the soldiers) placed him at odds with much of his own command. Nonetheless, he hoped to bring a Union victory to the East, specifically in northern Virginia. To accomplish this mission, he needed to control the region.

An engraving showing the Army of Virginia’s occupation of Warrenton, Virginia in 1862. The army utilized strict policies to counter guerrilla warfare and spying. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Similar to his previous command in northeast Missouri, Pope issued a series of orders to his new army regarding their authority over the northern Virginia populace, specifically to curb spying and guerrilla warfare. From the earlier campaigns in the region, in which several spies were caught, Union officers and men were convinced bands of marauders and spies lingered throughout the area.[1] When Pope took command, he hoped to put an end to insurgency in the region near his army. Continue reading

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Podcast Additional Resources: “High Tide of the Confederacy, Part 1”

It’s a dilemma. We have a lot of articles about Chancellorsville in our archives and a two-part podcast about the battle. How can we share the most?

So…for the additional resources for Part 1, we’ve tried to divide the articles. Since Part 1 takes listeners approximately to the point of Jackson’s wounding, that’s the dividing point for the articles and we’ll feature others next time…

Yep, Chris and Kris spent an hour talking about Joe Hooker, Robert E. Lee, Stoneman’s Raid, and the first two days at Chancellorsville! It’s a fantastic discussion and you can find it by subscribing or accessing your NCO Level account via Patreon. Continue reading

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Clay and Calhoun and Their Really Tall Columns

Clay columnAs they were rivals in life, so, too, it seems, did senators Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun try to outrival each other in death—or at least their supporters did.

In 2014, as part of a post I wrote about Calhoun-related sites in his home city of Charleston, South Carolina, I mentioned the towering Calhoun monument on the edge of Marion Square. A statue of Calhoun stands atop a granite column measuring 80 feet high.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Clay’s gravesite in Lexington Cemetery in Kentucky. There, Clay likewise stands atop a column. His measures a total of 120 feet—a full forty feet taller than Calhoun’s. And as if to make an even stronger point, the gravesite/monument sits atop a tree-ringed hill. Continue reading

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From West to East – John Pope and Counter-Insurgency, Part I

Original CDV of John Pope, between 1863 and 1865. Courtesy of Frohne’s Historic Military.

“I have come to you from the West,” declared Major General John Pope, as he addressed his new Army of Virginia. The new commander continued, “we have always seen the backs of our enemies; from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and to beat him when he was found; whose policy has been attack and not defense.” Pope hoped to lead this new army to victory and to effectively smother the flames of resistance in northern Virginia. To achieve his goal, he utilized the policies and strategies he previously used while serving in northeastern Missouri. This analysis will look primarily at counter-insurgency policies Pope implemented in Missouri and how they were applied to the equally unstable, yet vastly different, region of northern Virginia. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 4/22-4/29/19

Last week’s question opened a discussion about significant battles or skirmishes in the Peninsula Campaign, but excluded the Seven Days Battles.

Now, in you opinion which battle during the Seven Days was most significant and important? Why?

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Week In Review: April 15-21, 2019

Wishing you a blessed weekend to celebrate Passover, Easter, or just good times with family and friends!

It’s been an adventurous week on the blog. We started off with articles to inspire your summer travels, then headed into 1861 “marching off to war” history, and wrapped up with a full day of preservation discussions – along with other articles and topics along the way.

Enjoy the review… Continue reading

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Easter “Outside My Window”

LeRoy Grisham

LeRoy Wiley Gresham’s diary offers remarkable insight to an invalid’s life, the reporting of news on the homefront, culture and literature, and medical practices. The Georgian teenager found himself suffering from a cruel disease that racked his body and worsened as the years passed. While other boys his age hated their school studies, dreamed of enlisting, or got packed off to boarding or military schools, LeRoy saw the war pass “outside my window” and created a written record of his painful days, literary habits, visitors, and opinions on the conflict.

Today is Easter Sunday, and I wondered what LeRoy had to say about the sacred celebration through the years of the Civil War. He and his family were religious and attended the Presbyterian church regularly, and at various points in his journal LeRoy writes about ministers, chaplains, and his own studies of the Bible. What if we could compare all his entries on the four Easter Sundays of his life and the war? What would we learn?

After a little research to find the correct dates since the holy day moves on the calendar each year, here are the correct entries. This is Civil War Easter – according to LeRoy W. Gresham… Continue reading

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