Battle of Second Kernstown

Brig. Gen. George Crook

Brig. Gen. George Crook

Welcome back guest author Kyle Rothemich.

After the Battle of Rutherford’s Farm on July 20th, Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s Army of the Valley was located south of Strasburg near Fisher’s Hill. With Union forces defeating Stephen D. Ramseur’s forces at Rutherford’s Farm on July 20th, Union command was convinced Early was in full retreat. This rise in confidence causes the Union 6th Corps under Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright to be ordered out of the Shenandoah Valley. This corps headed back to reinforce Grant around Richmond. This left the only Union forces in the Valley under the command of Brig. Gen. George Crook. Crooks Army of West Virginia consisted of roughly 12,000 men and was located south of Winchester in the vicinity of Kernstown.

Early was concerned. He was ordered by Gen. Robert E. Lee to keep Union forces occupied in the Shenandoah Valley and prevent them from getting back towards Richmond. Therefore, when he heard news of the fleeing 6th Corps, he had to act in an attempt to keep them in the Valley. Prior to the battle on July 24th, Early sent out numerous cavalry parties to skirmish with Union soldiers at Kernstown. Many of the Union commanders viewed this as a screen, protecting Early’s retreat. Crook himself believed Early’s time in the Valley was complete and he was withdrawing back towards Richmond. Continue reading

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ECW Series: “That Furious Struggle”

Layout 1We’re delighted to announce the upcoming release of the newest book in the Emerging Civil War Series: That Furious Struggle: Chancellorsville and the High Tide of the Confederacy by ECW co-founders Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White.

That Furious Struggle will be available in bookstores and online in early August.

A sneak-peak “first release” of the book will take place on Saturday, August 2 at 2:00 p.m. at Ellwood Manor on the Wilderness Battlefield (part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park) in Locust Grove, VA. To launch the book, the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield are presenting a program called “The Legend of Stonewall’s Arm” by co-author Chris Mackowski, with a book signing to follow. Jackson’s arm, amputated after he was shot by his own men during the battle of Chancellorsville, is buried at Ellwood.

The official launch of That Furious Struggle will coincide with the First Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge during the Friday evening reception on August 15.

From the back book cover: Continue reading

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General Grant, R.I.P.

GrantInPhillyUlysses S. Grant died on this date, at 8:03 a.m.. back in 1885.

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Shot Pouch’s Eighth Shot

whtwalkerTo say that Major General William Henry Talbot “Shot Pouch” Walker was a difficult man is an understatement. Known for his quarrelsome personality, he was a West Point classmate of Braxton Bragg and Joe Hooker and had demonstrated personal bravery on many fields and in many wars. His nickname of “Shot Pouch” came from being shot so many times in the Second Seminole War and the War with Mexico (he was wounded in the battle of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, five times alone). After Mexico, he spent time recruiting and then as commandant of cadets at West Point before becoming one of the first United States officers to resign his commission during the Secession crisis, doing so on December 20th, 1860, to offer his services to his native state, Georgia.

Walker took a commission as a colonel in the Georgia Militia and, shortly thereafter, was made a major general for the state. He soon transferred to Confederate service with the rank of colonel and then brigadier general, only to resign seven days later in disgust over lack of significant assignments. Walker returned back to state service as a general. Continue reading

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The Death of Francis Marion Walker

FMWalker

Col. Francis Marion Walker

It seemed that the slow bleeding of the Confederate officer corps reached its zenith on July 22. Throughout the campaign, in the nearly continuous fighting from Dalton to the Gate City, the Army of Tennessee was slowly losing its best and brightest. Now as Hood launched the battle for the city, the losses continued to mount at an even faster rate.

As Frank Cheatham’s Tennessee Division rolled over the open space toward the works of the veterans of MacPherson’s Army of the Tennessee, Col. Francis Marion Walker was in the forefront urging his men forward, “his good sword swept in glittering circles above his head.” Walker was on the verge of being promoted to general; indeed, he had commanded Gen. George Maney’s Brigade at the Dead Angle fight at Kennesaw. However, he was now back with his regiment. Continue reading

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“I want the American flag!”—Manning Force and the Battle of Atlanta

Conclusion of a two-part series

After their hard fight the previous day, the men of Manning Force’s brigade still had a lot of work to do when they awoke on Friday, July 22. They had slept amongst the casualties from the day before and there had only been a few scattered thunderstorms to breakup the intense heat that also took effect on the fight’s corpses.

As the soldiers stirred, they returned to unfinished business. Yesterday the men had started to reverse the Confederate trenches that had been manned by Patrick Cleburne. Now, in the early morning hours, Illinoisans and Wisconsinites returned to that work. Using the available shovels, the soldiers also used their bayonets, plates, and hands to dig trenches and ditches that faced towards Atlanta. By the time they were finished, they would be able to stand in their own works and fire towards Atlanta, but still have the rebels’ old works to their rear. Though no one knew it at the time, that fact would become crucial for the battle of Bald Hill in just a few hours. Continue reading

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Death of an Army Commander

Brady-GeneralMcPherson

150 years ago today at 11 AM, the U.S. Army lost its first-ever Army Commander to die at the head of his troops, Major General James B. McPherson of the Army of the Tennessee.

General McPherson grew up in Ohio and graduated first in the Class of 1853 at West Point. Classmates included John M. Schofield and John Bell Hood, one a fellow army commander under Sherman and the other commanding the army opposite. After supervising the construction of Fort Delaware and Alcatraz Island, he quickly rose from a staff position to become one of U.S. Grant’s most trusted subordinates. By early 1864, he was Sherman’s choice to take over the Army of the Tennessee. Continue reading

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“Did great honor to themselves and the cause for which they fought”—Manning Force and the fight for Bald Hill

Bald Hill from the southeast; Manning Force’s brigade would have looked up this hill on the morning of July 21. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 24, 1929.

Bald Hill from the southeast; Manning Force’s brigade would have looked up this hill on the morning of July 21. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 24, 1929.

Part one of a two-part series

Resaca, Pickett’s Mill, Kolb’s Farm, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain—a road of bloody encounters that all led to here. Numerous battles that paved the way to the Gateway to the South: Atlanta.

With its convergence of railroads in the center of the city, Atlanta was vital to both Federal and Confederate leadership, and through two months of campaigning the armies had battled and maneuvered to the city’s doorstep.

William T. Sherman eyed the railroads that all converged at Atlanta—if he could capture the train stations, he would cleave the Deep South into nearly irreparable pieces. His counter-part, the newly promoted John Bell Hood, looked to defend the city and together the two armies maneuvered to Atlanta’s doorstep. Continue reading

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Deconstructing Reconstruction

The table below summarizes Federal Tax revenues and spending for twenty years following the Civil War. For clarity, the total period is separated into four discrete five-year intervals. As may be observed, more than half of Federal tax revenues were applied to three items: (1) Federal debt interest, (2) budget surpluses, and (3) veterans benefits. Although compelled to pay their share of taxes to fund them, Southerners derived no benefit from the allocations. They essentially represented a form of reparations for being on the losing side. Nor were they the only form.

CW JPGTax

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Battle of Rutherford’s Farm, Carters Farm or Stephenson’s Depot

Map depicting the Battle of Rutherford's Farm drawn by Jedediah Hotchkiss, L.O.C.

Map depicting the Battle of Rutherford’s Farm drawn by Jedediah Hotchkiss, L.O.C.

Today we welcome back guest author Kyle Rothemich.

Following his victory at Cool Spring on July 18th, Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early started to withdraw deeper into the Shenandoah Valley. On July 19th he sent Confederate Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur and his division west to Winchester. Early feared Union forces would arrive from the north via Martinsburg, West Virginia. Early told Ramseur explicitly not to bring on an attack; and to occupy the fortifications around Winchester.Accompanied by cavalry under Brig. Gen. John C. Vaughn, Ramseur, marched west arriving in Winchester that evening.

On the morning of July 20th, Ramseur and his command found themselves two miles north of Winchester. Vaughn’s troopers galloped north to feel out the oncoming Union force. The Union force advancing south on the Valley Turnpike was a division under the command of Brig. Gen. William Averell. Averell’s command contained both Union cavalry and infantry. Many of Averell’s men had been serving in the Shenandoah Valley or West Virginia throughout the war. Union skirmishers met Vaughn’s cavalry north of Winchester between noon and two o’clock. Vaughn requested a battery and asked how far he should drive back the enemy. Ramseur obliged and sent him artillery, confident he could whip Averell’s command. Continue reading

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