“Dawn of Victory” has arrived!

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Edward S. Alexander’s new Emerging Civil War Series book is now out: Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg. If you’re around the Cockade City for 150th anniversary events this week, be sure to pick up a copy.

While copies are just now hitting bookshelves, their availability is still limited over the next few days as the distributor makes deliveries. You can be certain to get copies at Pamplin Historical Park (where Edward works as a ranger), and various bookstores at Petersburg National Battlefield. Amazon orders, we’re told, will be shipping soon.

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Beyond the 150th at Bentonville

Cotton still grows today on many parts of the battlefield at Bentonville.

Cotton still grows today on many parts of the battlefield at Bentonville.

As the 150th Anniversary of Bentonville fades into memory, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the ongoing efforts by their wonderful staff to interpret the battle beyond the Sesquicentennial. The following is a brief excerpt from “Preserving the Bentonville Battlefield” by Donny Taylor, the site supervisor at the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. It appears in “Calamity in Carolina: The Battles of Averasboro and Bentonville, March 1865″ by Daniel T. Davis and Phillip S. Greenwalt (Savas Beatie, LLC. March 2015)

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“The best dispatch you can show me”: Lincoln Reviews the Fort Stedman Prisoners

Lincoln and Grant Inspecting Prisoners“The time had arrived when all, from Generals Grant and Meade to those of the rank and file, were conscious that the final struggle was near,” claimed a Vermont soldier in late March 1865. The Union noose around Petersburg slowly tightened; Phil Sheridan’s cavalry expected to arrive any day and Bill Sherman’s army slightly farther away on the April horizon. Abraham Lincoln wanted to be with the army in what many believed would be the climactic campaign and boarded the steamer River Queen on March 23 and arrived the next day at Union headquarters at City Point. Before the President, with his wife and son Tad, could settle in with a planned military review on the 25th, a desperate but doomed Confederate charge kickstarted the war in Virginia’a final sequence of events. Continue reading

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The Most Fateful Decision of April 19, 1775

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Lord Hugh Percy, the 2nd Duke of Northumberland and holding the rank of brigadier general commanded the relief brigade that was ordered out from Boston by Sir Thomas Gage after Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith had sent back a messenger asking for reinforcements.

Little did Lord Percy realize at the time that by the late afternoon of April 19th, one quick decision saved the lives of countless British Redcoats and hundreds of American militia and minutemen. Continue reading

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What Did They Know?

Today, we are pleased to welcome back guest author Dwight Hughes

Shenandoah in Hobson's Bay, Melbourne, February 1865. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.

Shenandoah in Hobson’s Bay, Melbourne, February 1865. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.

When considering historical events, it is too easy to wonder, given what happened, why in the world our ancestors did what they did. But we must remember that they did not know what happened. Their understanding of contemporary events would have been as confused, incomplete, fragmentary, and probably biased as ours is of current events, and I would not give much credit to modern technology for improving this situation. The following is a vivid illustration of that phenomenon. The CSS Shenandoah visited Melbourne, Australia in February 1865, and would go on to dramatically complete a destructive mission that no longer mattered. What did they know? It is true that these Southerners were as far away from domestic battlefields as it is possible to be, but consider also that the newspapers referenced were being read and believed by people at home.

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Question of the Week 23 March

What was the greatest missed opportunity of the Battle of Bentonville? Was it Joseph Johnston’s inability to follow through on his assault on the first day, as discussed in Lee White’s piece on the Army of Tennessee? Was it Mower’s failure to cut off Johnston’s line of retreat on March 21? Or was it another action?

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“One of the most deplorable incidents”

On March 21, 1865, one of the last actions of the battle of Bentonville—which, in turn, was the last major engagement between Confederate forces and Union soldiers under William T. Sherman in the Western theater—cut short another young life. Continue reading

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The Swamp Lizard Turns the Flank: Joseph Mower’s Assault at Bentonville

Joseph Mower. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Joseph Mower. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Reveling in victory, Maj. Gen. Joseph Mower watched as the enemy to his immediate front collapsed, the Confederates scampering to the rear for safety. To his immediate front, Mower could make out the buildings that constituted the village of Bentonville. His probe had completely broken the gray position- overrunning Gen. Joseph Johnston’s headquarters-but now Mower was advancing blind. He had to find out what was out in front of him. Turning to the nearest regiment, the 64th Illinois Infantry, Mower ordered them ahead. This act was characteristic of this Connecticut Yankee who had earned a reputation in Sherman’s armies as an aggressive officer.

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The Battle of Bentonville: March 21, 1865

Village of Bentonville. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

Village of Bentonville. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

March 21 began much as the previous day ended, with both sides engaging in light skirmishing. Late in the morning, Maj. Gen. Joseph A. Mower, a division commander in the XVII Corps received permission from his immediate superior, Maj. Gen. Frank Blair to launch a reconnaissance in force around the Union right. Mower took along two thirds of his division, maneuvering them into a position directly across from the Confederate left. This thinly held section of the line was manned by Brig. Gen. Evander Law’s cavalry. Sending his men forward, Mower’s infantry quickly overwhelmed the enemy cavalry and the Rebel line collapsed.

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The Preservation of Monroe’s Crossroads, Averasboro and Bentonville

Not every Civil War battlefield is within the boundaries of a national park. Three important ones, all associated with Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign of 1865, are preserved, but are not within the boundaries of a national park. All three provide excellent examples of other means of ensuring the preservation of Civil War battlefields.

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Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Cavalry, Civil War Events, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Memory, National Park Service, Personalities, Preservation, Sesquicentennial, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment