Echoes of Reconstruction: Confederate Jubal Early Explains the Cause of the Civil War (part two)

Jubal Early later in life.

Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome back Patrick Young, author of The Reconstruction Era blog. This is the second in a two-part series looking at the ways Jubal Early’s book The Heritage of the South tried to “explain” the causes of the Civil War. The book was written during Early’s postwar self-exile but not published until after his death.


As with many Confederate partisans, Early said that the effort by Northerners to exclude slavery from the territories made it more difficult to end slavery. He never says how it would have ended slavery if its reach had been expanded. He also argued that efforts to confine slavery to the South were  “as injurious to the slaves themselves as to the white population of the states.” As with many other Confederates, Early equated anti-slavery activists with those who a century and a half earlier had resorted to the “hanging, burning and scourging of ‘heretics and witches.’” [p. 78]

The growth of the Underground Railroad was another Northern crime against the South leading to the Civil War. Early writes that:

“for many years slaves had been enticed by agents from the North to make their escape and aid had been furnished them while doing so, under a system which obtained the designation of “The underground railroad.” This was not confined to citizens merely but was participated in by state officers who were sworn to support the Constitution of the United States, and instead of compelling their citizens and officers to comply with the Constitution and law, many of the free states passed laws to make it a felony for the owner to arrest his slave or for any one to assist him.” [p. 81-82] Continue reading

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“Always willing to bear his part of the danger and hardship of his fellow soldiers”: A Story from Winchester National Cemetery

This year, Emerging Civil War is helping to support Wreaths Across America at Winchester National Cemetery through a fundraiser. We are only one week away from an evening virtual program about the cemetery. To whet your appetite for history and showcase the work ECW editors have done preparing for this program, today we are sharing a story from the cemetery. While the story of William Guenther of the 116th New York Infantry will not be repeated during the talk, it is an example of what the program will be like on October 5.

Born in Germany, William stood 5 foot 10 inches tall, with a sandy complexion and brown hair and eyes.[1] He married Mary Bechtold, another German immigrant from the Electorate of Hesse, on March 1, 1859 in Buffalo’s Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s Church. Their daughter Anna was born April 13, 1862, and just a few months later William left for the army.[2] On August 4 of that year, the 25-year-old enlisted in Company G for three years’ service and received the first $25 of his promised $100 bounty.[3] He was with the regiment through a number of campaigns, most notably Port Hudson, before the unit was reassigned to the Shenandoah Valley in time for the fall 1864 campaigns.

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ECW’s September 2022 Newsletter Now Available

The September 2022 ECW newsletter went out earlier today. Did you get your copy, or did it go “wide right”? (If you’ve read the newsletter, you’ll get the reference; if not, you’d better read it so you can get up to speed!) In this issue, along with an explanation of how “wide right” relates to history, you’ll also get to read:

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Echoes of Reconstruction: Confederate Jubal Early Explains the Cause of the Civil War (part one)

Jubal A. Early

Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome back Patrick Young, author of The Reconstruction Era blog. Part one of a two-part series.

Jubal Early, a Virginian, was an important leader in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War, and a primary constructor of The Lost Cause Myth of the Confederacy. Modern students of the war are very familiar with his lionization of Robert E. Lee and his unremitting attacks on Confederate general James Longstreet, whom he blamed for the defeat at Gettysburg. Fewer seem to have read Early’s book Heritage of the South, written right after the war but published decades later after the general’s death. Inheritance was his defense of the Confederacy and its formative institution, slavery.

Early was never a large slave owner, although he seems to have had an enslaved servant. He earned his own living as a West Point-graduated United States Army officer and later as a lawyer. When South Carolina and other Deep South states began the Secession Crisis in late 1860 and early 1861, Early opposed Virginia joining the new Confederacy. It was only when his state decided to leave the Union that Early threw in his lot with the Confederacy.

Early had an initially successful career in the Confederate Army, entering as a colonel commanding a Virginia regiment. After Bull Run he was promoted to Brigadier General. He would eventually rise to command of the Army of the Valley and in 1864 he nearly reached Washington, D.C. during the Confederacy’s last invasion of the North. His army’s decline in the last quarter of 1864 and early in 1865 led to his removal from command. Continue reading

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Civil War Medicine: John Chase and the Lasting Legacies of Wartime Medicine

John F. Chase served with the 5th Maine Battery and was horribly wounded at Gettysburg. In 1866, he submitted this photo with a writing sample to a competition for veterans who lost the use of their right arm.

Civil War medicine did not exist in a vacuum only on battlefields and in hospitals. It began long before armies met in combat or men became ill; it began in classrooms, books, and lectures as surgeons and doctors learned and improved their skills and disseminated knowledge. Nor did it end on the battlefield, as surgeons took detailed records to inform future practice. Perhaps most importantly, it continued on in the form of successfully treated soldiers. Though they survived their wounds or diseases, they carried the side effects of the injury and the treatment for the rest of their lives, sometimes well into the 1900s. While some veterans carried bullet fragments in their bodies or vital organs weakened by illness or disease into civilian life, the legacy of Civil War medicine was rarely more visible than in the form of veterans who had limbs amputated.

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Civil War Medicine: “I Should Have Had The Hand Taken Off”

William Francis Bartlett (1840-1876)

“If I had known it was so bad and was likely to be so long and tedious a wound, I should have had the hand taken off that afternoon, without a thought to the contrary.”[i] Wrote twenty-three-year-old Colonel William Francis Bartlett approximately three weeks after his wounding at Port Hudson. Bartlett’s commentary on fear of wounding and treatment of his injury is a contrast, and one that he made with some knowledge that other officers lacked.

The young officer had already lost his left leg above the knee joint when he had been wounded on the Virginia Peninsula in April 1862. His recovery had been painful, but his determination conquered. Undeterred by his amputation, Bartlett had taken command of the 49th Massachusetts, drilled the new regiment, and then actively led the unit on campaign in the deep South.

On May 27, 1863, Bartlett faced Confederate guns as the Union army prepared for the first attacks on the fortifications at Port Hudson, Louisiana. He worried about the ground and the defensive obstructions blocking the attack route, knowing that if he was going to lead his green regiment in the assault, he had to ride his horse. “I knew being the only officer mounted, I should be much more conspicuous. I knew that my chances for life were very small. But I had to go horseback, or not at all. So prayed that life and limb might be spared, and went in….”[ii] He made it “two-thirds across the slaughter-field when, just as I was shouting to the men to keep closed on the color, pop I went off my horse like a rocket…. I was spared life, and most probably limb.”[iii] Wounded three times, losing his balance, and tumbling off his horse, Bartlett lay on the battlefield waiting for aid. Around him, his soldiers fell also until the regiment retreated in defeat with the other Union attackers. His life had been spared, but the painful journey with his wounded arm had just started, and Bartlett’s opinions on the treatments changed as the weeks passed. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 9/26-10/2/22

George McClellan got (and still gets) criticism for his relative inactivity after the battle of Antietam. If you were McClellan, what would you have done at the end of September/beginning of October 1862?

(Same historical scenario. No what-ifs except you’re the commander!)

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Civil War Trails: Skirmish in the Streets of Smithfield

Albert Burckard of Carrollton and Dee Campbell of Smithfield became the first visitors to the new sign only minutes after it was installed.
Photo courtesy of the Isle of Wight County Museum.

Press Release

Late last month a new Civil War Trails sign was installed along Main Street in front of the Isle of Wight County Museum in downtown Smithfield. It was the result of over two years worth of work as Civil War Trails, Inc. teamed up with the Isle of Wight County Museum staff and the Smithfield and Isle of Wight Tourism office. The new sign is a replacement for a damaged marker and now puts guests into the footsteps of the where the Civil War skirmish took place.

This new sign is one of four Civil War Trails sites in the County and part of the Civil War Trails program which connects visitors to over 1,400 sites across six states. The program enables visitors to stand in the footsteps of history and to imagine the historic events. Each Civil War Trails site is marketed internationally by state tourism offices, regional destination marketing organizations and municipal partners. This means the educational product is part of a much larger economic development mission. Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: National Museum of Civil War Medicine

In honor of the recently launched Medical series on the blog, I thought we’d highlight a special museum for this week’s ECW Weekender.

Before my visit to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick Maryland, the most I knew about Civil War Medicine came from passing remarks in memoirs, books, and the acclaimed series “Mercy Street”. My understanding of the subject was minimal and cursory at best, and tainted by myths about amputations and inept physicians at worst. The museum goes above and beyond to educate the masses and set straight the story of the nurses, doctors, and wounded of both sides. A museum of its depth and thoroughness in one singular subject is rare.

Logo of National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Situated in a historical part of Frederick, the façade is deceiving. It may look narrow from the front, but the length of the building is evident as visitors travel from room to room. The flow of exhibits takes a chronological look at the advancement of medicine before, during, and after the war, beginning with the education of doctors in the first half of the 19th century and ending with the treatment of wounded veterans in the latter half. Rooms are packed with artifacts and panels that add details to the lives of those who experienced and administered medicine during the Civil War. Everyone from nurses, doctors, the soldiers themselves, and their animals (horses, mules, etc.) were impacted by the medical advances made in the field. Notable figures and their contributions are seen everywhere, such as Clara Barton and Johnathon Letterman. No study of the Civil War is complete without the comprehension of this topic, and all may benefit from a visit to the museum, no matter their level of study. Continue reading

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The 100th Indiana’s Flag

160 years ago this month, the 100th Indiana Volunteers joined Federal service. The regiment (known as the Persimmon Regiment after fall 1862) saw action in the Vicksburg Campaign, the Battles for Chattanooga, and then in all campaigns of the Army of the Tennessee’s XV Corps to war’s end. At the Grand Review in May 1865, the regiment had the honor of leading Sherman’s troops down Pennsylvania Avenue.

At the end of the war, the men recorded on the 100th’s national color in detail their service. It is today at the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis. Continue reading

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