Never Mind the Helmet, Here Comes the Cavalry!

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Me and Cat, out for a stroll.

The riding helmet was small for me, so it looked like black puffball mushroom on my head. It was good enough for my purposes, though. I would be taking a couple horseback laps around an indoor ring, going only at a walk. My daughter, who has some professional experience training horses, would be walking alongside me.

This wasn’t my first rodeo—if you call walking around an indoor arena a “rodeo.” We’ve owned a horse for years—Reilly, named by my daughter after her dear friend and fellow Stonewall Jackson groupie, Frank O’Reilly. Continue reading

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Sketches from the Shenandoah: Union Hospital in Middletown

Hospital in MiddletownJames Taylor captured the aftermath of the Battle of Cedar Creek in this sketch. Here, Union surgeons operate on the wounded in Middletown.

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Sketches from the Shenandoah: Sheridan’s Rally

Sheridan Rallying TroopsJames Taylor’s was one of many nineteenth century drawings of Philip Sheridan rallying his men on the battlefield of Cedar Creek.

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Civil War Echoes: Douglas MacArthur and the Return to the Philippines

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70 years ago today, General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore on Leyte, fulfilling his famous pledge to return to the Philippines. The photo of him at that moment (shown here, center, with his staff) is one of the iconic images of World War II in the Pacific. It is also an echo of the Civil War.

Douglas was the youngest son of Arthur MacArthur, who as a 17-year-old boy became a Lieutenant and adjutant of the 24th Wisconsin in 1862. A year later he earned the Medal of Honor at Chattanooga for leadership under fire, and in 1864 commanded his regiment at the age of 19. Staying in the Army after the war, he married a Virginian (Mary Hardy, from Norfolk) in 1875 and had three sons. Arthur fought on the frontier and then in the Philippines, retiring in 1909 as a Lieutenant General. He died on September 5, 1912, while addressing the 50th Anniversary reunion of the 24th Wisconsin. “My whole world changed that night,” wrote Douglas in 1963. “Never have I been able to heal the wound in my heart.” Continue reading

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Sign-O-the-Times at Brandy Station

I spent some time earlier this weekend at the Brandy Station battlefield, where I saw this sign: Continue reading

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“This city is now in the possession of the Confederate States of America”: The Raid on St. Albans, Vermont

On October 15, 1864, two men arrived in the town of St. Albans, Vermont and checked into a hotel named the American House. They appeared to be unassuming, but the two were the vanguard of some twenty others, all who arrived in the coming days to seat of Franklin County, Vermont. Dressed in plain clothes, and concealing Southern accents, the score or so of men were raiders, come to St. Albans, population of about 4,000 people, to strike in the name of the Confederacy.[1]

Continue reading

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Shenandoah Subordinates: George Washington Getty and the Battle of Cedar Creek

Part four in a series.

Gordon and Hotchkiss observing the Union line atop Massanutten Mountain. Courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Gordon and Hotchkiss observing the Union line atop Massanutten Mountain. Courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

In the wake of the victory at the Battle of Tom’s Brook, the Union Army of the Shenandoah trudged north, eventually going into camp along a stream known as Cedar Creek, south of the village of Middletown. Undeterred by the drubbing that his cavalry had received, Jubal Early’s Army of the Valley continued onward in hot pursuit, eventually taking up its old position on Fisher’s Hill. Despite the enemy presence, Phil Sheridan remained convinced that Early’s army did not pose a serious threat to his command. Little Phil was so comfortable in this mindset that on October 15, he left the army to travel to Washington to meet with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to discuss and plan future operations.VI Corps commander Horatio Wright would be in command during Sheridan’s absence. Sheridan’s complacency was unfounded; Early in fact was looking for an opportunity to strike the Federals. To that end, on October 17, Early dispatched Maj. Gen. John Gordon, Brig. Gen. Clement Evans and Jedediah Hotchkiss to Massanutten Mountain to examine the Union lines.

Continue reading

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Cedar Creek 150th

Lots going on this weekend at Cedar Creek for the sesquicentennial of the battle. Check out the schedule! If you stop by the battlefield, be on the lookout for ECW’s own Phill Greenwalt.

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Belle Grove plantation (photo by Chris Mackowski)

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Remembering the “Great Gamble” at Cedar Creek

8th Vermont Monument, Cedar Creek Battlefield

8th Vermont Monument,
Cedar Creek Battlefield

This weekend, the National Park Service, in conjunction with the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, Belle Grove, and the Shenandoah National Battlefield Historic District will combine to host a series of events commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek.

As historian Kyle Rothemich aptly put to visitors today at the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Visitor Contact Station when he outlined the battle underscores the importance of this October engagement: “The Battle was a Confederate victory by lunch time and a Union victory by dinner.”

History with a food analogy—filling in both regards! Continue reading

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Sketches from the Shenandoah: The Wounding of Charles Russell Lowell

Wounding of LowellAt the Battle of Cedar Creek, James Taylor captured the mortal wounding of Colonel Charles Russell Lowell. Lowell hailed from Boston and was a member of one of New England’s most distinguished families. A Harvard graduate, Lowell received a commission in the Regular Army, serving in the 6th U.S. Cavalry during the Peninsula Campaign and seeing action at Antietam.  In the fall of 1862, he raised the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry. During the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, Lowell would command the old Reserve Brigade from the Army of the Potomac. Wounded early in the fighting on October 19, Lowell refused to leave the field. He was finally shot down in what is today the parking lot of the Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Virginia. He is buried in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Interestingly, Lowell was married to the sister of Robert Gould Shaw. Shaw famously died when leading the 54th Massachusetts Infantry in an assault on Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor in the summer of 1863.

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