“Domestic Blockade”: Three Cheers for the Homefront Mothers

When dads are away for long periods for work or military service, moms don’t have the ability to defer discipline decisions for a few hours. And this humorous illustration from the Civil War era made me think about another aspect of war’s effects on the civilian homefront… Continue reading

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Ten Cent Jimmy

President James Buchanan’s Wheatland home just outside Lancaster, PA, in a recent February snowfall. More than 25 species of trees grace the beautiful estate grounds which are open to the public. Photo by Chris Heisey

In Buchanan Park located a couple of miles from Wheatland, a monument to the 15th President is aptly surrounded by thorny rose bushes. He is the Keystone State’s only president. Rankings of our best and worst presidents frequently rank him at the very bottom given his inaction to the secession of seven Southern states after Lincoln’s electoral victory in 1860. Photo by Chris Heisey

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Joshua Chamberlain stares down the 1880 Maine rebellion (part two of two)

Chamberlain circa 1871

Emerging Civil War is pleased to feature the work of our friend, Maine at War author Brian Swartz. Part two of two.

In early 1880, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain faced a political crisis in his home state of Maine, where a disputed election threatened to throw the state into turmoil. An executive order authorized Chamberlain, as the state’s premier war hero and a former governor himself, to come out of retirement and preside until the political situation resolved itself–except tensions only mounted.

The rebellion peaked on Wednesday, January 14, which was “another Round Top, although few knew of it,” Chamberlain told his wife, Fanny.

“There were threats all morning of overpowering the police & throwing me out of the window, & the ugly looking crowd seemed like men who could be brought to do it (or to try it),” he reported.

Angry men threatened “fire & blood” or cajoled Chamberlain “to call out the militia at once. But I stood it firmly through, feeling sure of my arrangements & of my command of the situation.” Continue reading

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Symposium Spotlight: Dan Welch

Dan Welch at the grave of Rufus Dawes, 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

Welcome back to another installment of our 2021 Emerging Civil War Spotlight series: Each week we have introduced you to another of our outstanding speakers that will be presenting at the Seventh Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium August 6 – 8, 2021. Today we introduce you to Dan Welch. Continue reading

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Melissa Winn: “Don’t Be Afraid to be Right”

To kick off Women’s History Month, I took some time to do a podcast interview with Melissa Winn, the director of photography for HistoryNet. Melissa is the one in charge of all the great photos you see in Civil War Times and America’s Civil War, although she also oversees a photography department and works with three photo editors who produce images for nine different history magazines.

My interview with Melissa is available on the ECW YouTube page by clicking here or as a downloadable podcast (by clicking here).

However, in the spirit of Women’s History Month, I want to call special attention to some advice Melissa offered as we headed into the home stretch of our interview (my question came at 54:58, for those tracking): “Before we run out of time, let me just ask one quick question to wrap up: If you had advice to give to a young woman who was thinking about getting into the history field—Civil War history, in particular—what advice might you offer?” Continue reading

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Joshua Chamberlain stares down the 1880 Maine rebellion (part one of two)

Joshua Chamberlain was the first four-term governor of Maine. (msa)

Emerging Civil War is pleased to feature the work of our friend, Maine at War author Brian Swartz. Part one of two.

When a political crisis roiled Maine in early 1880, Joshua L. Chamberlain answered the call to duty and averted a potential civil war.

During the 12 days he wore his army uniform, Fusionists and Republicans alike curried his favor — and when such smooching failed, some men plotted to kill him.

The crisis began with the September 8, 1879 election featuring four gubernatorial candidates: Democrat (and current governor) Alonzo Garcelon, Republican Daniel F. Davis, Joseph L. Smith, and perennial election loser Bion Bradbury. Davis got the most votes, but not the needed majority to clinch the win. Continue reading

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Two Distinct Legends: George Washington and Robert E. Lee

Understanding who did, or did not, influence General Robert E. Lee allows historians tobetter comprehend his military and command decisions. The problem is misperceptions can get passed down through the generations. Many Lee advocates and critics would agree with Michael Korda’s most recent assessment: “there were two major influences in Lee’s life, each of which was to play a major role in forming not only his character, but his tactics and strategy as a general. The first was George Washington himself . . . .”[1]  The facts, however, just do not support this notion. A comparison of these legends illustrates that other than some casual parallels, their strategic leadership, military strategy/tactics, and command style were distinct.

Robert E. Lee by John Adams Elder (Image by © The Corcoran Gallery of Art/CORBIS)

General George Washington

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Maine at War: February 2020

Beech Grove Confederate Cemetery became reality in 1866, when Southern veterans moved comrades killed at Hoover’s Gap during the Tullahoma Campaign to a nearby civilian cemetery. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

Here’s what our friend Brian Swartz was up to in February at his blog, Maine at War:

February 3, 2021: The 4th Maine’s Johnnies come marching home, part 2

A local band plays an appropriate tune as the 4th Maine Infantry’s three-year veterans disembark in Rockland after completing their three-year enlistments. Impatient to get home, they then blow through the festivities and head out the door.

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Book Review: Writing War and Reunion

Writing War and Reunion:  Selected Civil War and Reconstruction Newspaper Editorials
by William Gilmore Simms
Edited by Jeffery J. Rogers
University of South Carolina Press, 2020, $59.99 hardcover

Reviewed by Stephen Davis

Thank goodness for the academy. Across the country, Confederate statues are dropping faster than swatted flies. But in academic circles, the study of Confederate nationalism and culture is thriving.

In the last couple of decades, we’ve seen Jason Phillips, Diehard Rebels and Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Why Confederates Fought (both 2007); Michael Bernath, Confederate Minds (2010); Coleman Hutchison, Apples & Ashes: Literature, Nationalism and the Confederate States of America (2012); and George Rable, Damn Yankees! Demonization & Defiance in the Confederate South (2015).

Definitely part of this phenomenon is the current revival of scholarly interest in William Gilmore Simms, arguably the leading writer of the antebellum South. The University of South Carolina has made Simms’ works accessible, both in print and digitally. And catch this barometer: forty-one dissertations and theses have been written on Simms during 1990-2010. Professors have even formed a William Gilmore Simms Society! Riding this wave—nay, helping to churn it–is Jeffery J. Rogers, ed., Writing War and Reunion: Selected Civil War and Reconstruction Newspaper Editorials by William Gilmore Simms. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 3/1-3/7/21

Last week we talked about high ground and it’s advantages, so let’s reverse it this week…

In your opinion, what was the worst ground that Civil War troops fought through or attacked over?

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