Civil War Trust Preserving More of “The Most Fought Over Ground in America” at Brandy Station

Fleetwood Hill (photo by Chris Mackowski)

Fleetwood Hill (photo by Chris Mackowski)

By ECW Correspondent Liam McGurl

After a major year in preservation, the Civil War Trust has offered Brandy Station Battlefield a new conservation opportunity.

This project consists of the acquisition and preservation of 33 square acres of land at the most critical point of the battlefield, Fleetwood Hill.

Specifically, 28 acres of the north-facing slope of Fleetwood Hill—overlooking the Rappahannock River—and another 5 acres on the southern slope, are the subject of the fundraising campaign. Through consistent fundraising and generous donations, $555,000 has been raised for this effort, and the possibility of an official state park seems closer than ever.

Despite these advancements, there is still a great deal of unprotected, core battlefield ground that needs to be preserved—and the efforts to do so remain imperative. Continue reading

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This Just In: To the Bitter End!

TBE-tabletopLook what arrived on Bert Dunkerly’s doorstep this afternoon: hot-off-the-presses copies of his book To the Bitter End: Appomattox, Bennett Place, and the Surrenders of the Confederacy.

Bert will be hitting the road in support of his new book, so be sure to catch him: Continue reading

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Kit Carson’s Civil War: Learning to Command, Administration and Training

Today, we are pleased to welcome guest author Ray Shortridge.

Part one in a series.

Territory and Military Department of New Mexico, U.S. War Department, 1859. Courtesy of Sharlot Hall Museum.

Territory and Military Department of New Mexico, U.S. War Department, 1859. Courtesy of Sharlot Hall Museum.

In early July, 1861, Henry Hopkins Sibley met with Jefferson Davis in Richmond. He had resigned from the United States Army while serving as a major in New Mexico Territory. Sibley proposed a campaign to conquer what is now New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, and the northern Mexico states of Chihuahua and Sonora. Only a few regiments of U. S. troops and a handful of Mexican units patrolled this vast region. Davis did not document the meeting nor record his thoughts about the risks and benefits of the mission. Perhaps, because it was an easy decision — hazarding a battalion of about three thousand Texans in return for a vast southwestern empire. Davis authorized Sibley to raise three regiments of mounted infantry in Texas and lead them on an invasion of New Mexico Territory.[1]

Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Arms & Armaments, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Civil War Events, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Losing Touch with the Words of Lincoln’s Greatness

MaliceCharity-LincolnMem-smAbraham Lincoln’s best-known words, delivered on a November afternoon at the new Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, laid out a call to action at a specific moment in the American Civil War. Attendees at the dedication, he said, must rededicate themselves to victory. He knew the newspapers would reprint the speech, so he aimed his comments at more than just the assembled crowd. It was a call to all Americans at that moment. 

Perhaps disingenuously, he predicted “the world will little note nor long remember” his words. It’s become almost obligatory to point out the irony of Lincoln’s comment considering the number of school kids who’ve had to memorize the Gettysburg Address.

For me, the real irony—a deeply disappointing one—centers on those words of Lincoln’s we did forget: the far more ambitious vision of his Second Inaugural Address.

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Lincoln Defines America

A century and a half ago today, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. He then took the podium and gave his second inaugural address, the words of which are immortalized on the Lincoln Memorial today. He concluded: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Continue reading

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Towards a Respectable Army


Continental Troops

Continental Troops

One of the enduring myths of the Revolution is that the Americans won by using superior tactics, using cover and concealment while the British fought in lines. Yet in reality, the Americans found that they had to create an army modeled on the European tradition that they were in fact struggling against: a permanent, standing army of disciplined troops. The Continental army also had to adopt the linear tactics used by their enemies, matching them at this to beat them. The source of this tradition may be traced to the early victories of the war at Lexington, Concord, and even Bunker Hill (an American loss, but at a dear price to General Gage), as well as later victories like Kings Mountain.

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The Civil War: Regional, Regimental and Personal Experiences

Amos Humiston

Amos Humiston, the best-known member of the 154th New York

We don’t normally post information here about academic conferences, but this one is a little different (and I have a vested interest in it!).

On August 1st, 2015, St. Bonaventure University—the institution where I teach—will host a conference on the Civil War to commemorate the opening of The Mark H. Dunkelman and Michael J. Winey Collection of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry. The title of the conference is “The Civil War: Regional, Regimental and Personal Experiences.”

In the spirit of the 154th New York and those interested in preserving its memory, the conference organizers hope to attract presentations that explore the Civil War home front (especially New York and Pennsylvania), the experience of soldiers on the personal and regimental levels, and the intersection of popular and academic treatments of the war. Somewhat uniquely, the conference will be held concurrently with the formal opening of the collection and the Annual Reunion of the Descendants of the 154th New York Volunteers. Reunion attendees and the general public are welcome to register for the conference. Continue reading

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Sherman’s Memoirs Inspire Davis’ “Calamity”

Dan at the Bull Run Civil War Roundtable speaking on the battle of Bentonville

Dan at the Bull Run Civil War Roundtable speaking on the battle of Bentonville

By ECW Correspondent Pat Tintle

After sitting down to read the memoirs of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman one year ago, Daniel T. Davis was sparked by the idea to write about the battles of Averasboro and Bentonville—two battles in which the general led the Union Army to victory.

The battles of Averasboro and Bentonville were fought on Mar. 16 and Mar. 19-21, 1865, respectively, in central North Carolina. Although eventually won by the Union Army, Sherman was not in favor of sending his depleted armies into another bloody fight.

“[I]n the uncertainty of General (Joseph) Johnston’s strength,” Sherman said in his Memoirs, “I did not feel disposed to invite a general battle, for we had been out from Savannah since the latter part of January, and our wagon-trains contained but little food.”

As a result, Confederate forces nearly destroyed an isolated portion of the Federal Army before Sherman salvaged the situation.

Sherman’s perseverance caught Davis’ attention. Continue reading

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Through the Carolinas: Aspects of Sherman’s Second March

General-Sherman-AtlantaFrom the beginning of February to the latter part of March, 1865 Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s Army Group traversed the swamps, rivers and lowlands of the Carolinas. This was no small undertaking. Sherman faced a heady task. He would have to move 60,000 men at the height of winter and cut off from all supplies. Such an endeavor had been attempted before and was successful; late the previous year, Sherman had marched across Georgia from Atlanta to Savannah. There was no reason to believe that it could not be done again by the force Sherman described as “having a confidence in itself that makes it almost invincible”. Even for seasoned veterans, that confidence would carry them a long way on an extended campaign.

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Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Civil War Events, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Memory, Sesquicentennial, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Question of the Week: 2 March

In the midst of the Sesquicentennial, which march was more important and why: Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” or his march through the Carolinas?

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