The ECW September Newsletter is Now Available

The September ECW Newsletter hit inboxes yesterday. Did you get your copy? If not, you can read it here. In this issue:

  • Lincoln considers “a house divided,” and ECW Editor-in-Chief Chris Mackowski considers the house today
  • Cecily Nelson Zander answers “10 Questions”
  • The “Reddest of the Red” gets a new biography from David Dixon
  • “News & Notes” covers battlefields by bicycle, Antietam by social distance, Grant on the eve of victory, Confederates at Chancellorsville, and a whole lot more

…and more! Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: Mark Twain’s Home Library (Virtually)

This week I’ve been trying to find some virtual tours of home libraries from the 19th Century. While Mark Twain’s connection to the Civil War is loose (he headed for Nevada Territory in 1861), his post-war friendship with Ulysses S. Grant and other “ties to the war” have been featured through the years on this blog. (Links here!)

And guess what… There’s the opportunity to take a virtual tour of Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut, and get a close look at his library and writing space. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration for your own home library through the tour of the 19th Century home. Continue reading

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Not Written in Letters of Blood: Tullahoma

On July 7, 1863, William Rosecrans, in reply to a telegram from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, wrote: “I beg in [sic] behalf of this army that the War Department may not overlook so great an event because it is not written in letters of blood.”

Tullahoma Campaign Map, click on the map for a full-size download

Rosecrans was referring to the recent operations of the Army of the Cumberland in late June and early July 1863; more commonly known as the Tullahoma Campaign.

The Tullahoma Campaign is, by and large, still undiscovered country for most students of the Civil War. Many people know of Tullahoma, I have found, but not many know much about Tullahoma.

There are at least three overriding reasons for this obscurity. First, neither the Union nor Confederate commanders were top talent. Immediate draws of the likes of Grant, Lee, Sherman, or Stonewall Jackson; none were present in Middle Tennessee. Second, the campaign lasted slightly more than one week and ended without a climactic battle. Today no national or even state park exists to preserve its story. Third, Tullahoma is overshadowed by two other great events that happened simultaneously: Gettysburg and Vicksburg, both of which overpowered news of Tullahoma even as it was happening. Continue reading

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Perceptions of Emancipation in Gettysburg, Part Three

ECW welcomes back guest author Jon Tracey

The conclusion of a series (Part One, Part Two)

Henry J. Stahle, editor of the Democrat Gettysburg Compiler.

As seen in Part One and Part Two, Gettysburg was a border town caught directly in the midst of national debates on emancipation during the Civil War. In early July 1863, the small town became national news as the Union and Confederate armies dueled over the fate of the nation from the 1st to the 3rd. As the town struggled to put itself back together in the aftermath of the battle, the political duel continued. Now, however, the town had changed. On July 4th, Stahle was arrested by Union soldiers as a presumed spy charged with pointing out hidden troops to Confederates. As the editor of the Democrat paper, he was one of the most influential Democrats in Adams County, and his fiery rhetoric may have caused some to doubt his loyalty.[1] Though Stahle had likely been accused by a politically motivated Republican, this action shows the growing frustration against what some had called a “noted organ of treason.”[2] After signing a parole, Stahle was released as no charges were sent with him. Stahle returned to town and continued to serve as the editor of the Compiler. Though not punished militarily, his reputation remained damaged. The anti-Lincoln and anti-emancipation rhetoric continued through the war, and the Compiler continued to serve as the major Democrat paper. Yet, it no longer held the same power over the community as it once did as opposing papers grew more and more established.

The Sentinel began to more openly express ideas of racialized freedom and liberty. Mere weeks after the battle it returned to press, and printed a letter to the editor that stated “Slavery, in its nature, is the mortal antagonist of Democratic Institutions… Never, never may my eyes behold any country severed or united on the basis of human inequality.”[3] The battle and the realities of war had turned many in the town towards more radical beliefs. In October, it expressed joy that “Delaware, although a Slave State, is wheeling into the line of Freedom,” as it had recently endorsed the Emancipation Proclamation “in resolutions as strong as language can make them.”[4] No longer would the paper carefully avoid attacking slavery or praising emancipation. Instead, the attacks became more pointed against Democrats, slavery, and disloyalty. Formerly, the Sentinel wrote, members of the “so-called Democratic party” had to show “entire subserviency[sic] to the slave interest,” and this was still true even in the North. “No wonder that modern Democracy, with its admiration for slavery, and sympathy for treason, has become almost synonymous with infidelity and disloyalty,” it continued, “No man who values his fair fame should allow his name to be connected with it for a day.”[5] Supporting the Democrat party, supporting slavery, and being disloyal to the Union were seen as one and the same; to do one was to do all the others as well. Continue reading

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ECW on C-SPAN: Kevin Pawlak and the 1862 Loudon Valley Campaign

C-SPAN 3’s coverage of the 2020 ECW Virtual Symposium continues this weekend.

Kevin Pawlak’s talk on the Loudon Valley Campaign of 1862 debuts on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. ET, with a rebroadcast Sunday at 4:00 a.m. The full video will be here:

Also, Sarah Kay Bierle’s talk about the 1862 Confederate raid on Chambersburg will re-air this Saturday at 12:50 p.m. ET. That full video is available here:

As always, we extend our thanks to C-SPAN 3 for their ongoing support of ECW!

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Free ECW Podcast: An Interview with Harold Holzer

Harold Holzer discusses his new book, “The Presidents Vs. The Press,” with ECW’s Chris Mackowski.

Check out the new podcast which is posted for FREE on ECW’s Patreon account!

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Home Libraries: Truly Making it Home

I’ve moved three times over the past five years. Packing for the moves is always the most time-consuming part of the process, and it’s not all that bad. Except for the books. When my wife and I last moved, we went to the hardware store and got a bunch of 98-cent cardboard boxes to put the books in. By the time we were done, we had filled nearly 40 of those boxes, all of which had to be carried down three flights of stairs, loaded into the U-Haul, and then carried right back into the new apartment. To put that process in broad terms: it sucks. And yet, unpacking those boxes is usually the first thing I do when I get to the new apartment. Not only is it an easy way to get those 40 boxes out of the way, there’s a more sentimental reason, too. For me, home is where the books are.

Continue reading

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Perceptions of Emancipation in Gettysburg, Part Two

ECW welcomes back guest author Jon Tracey

Part Two of a series (Part One)

This print of Union soldiers sharing the news of the Emancipation Proclamation was just one situation supporters of the decree praised. (Library of Congress)

As noted in Part One, Gettysburg was a deeply divided community on the topic of emancipation. Early in the war, support of the controversial topic and preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was often outweighed by opposition.  On January 1st, 1863, the Proclamation came into effect, but the war of words continued. The Democrat Gettysburg Compiler, headed by the controversial Henry J. Stahle, vehemently opposed the action, slinging vitriol at Republican-leaning neighbors such as the Adams Sentinel.

Though the Emancipation Proclamation exempted border states such as Maryland who had not seceded, it went further than the preliminary proclamation did in other respects. It allowed the enlistment of African American men into segregated units and, importantly, it moved beyond calling emancipation merely a necessity and called it justice.[1] As the Proclamation came into effect, Democrat’s hopes of delay or repeal were dashed. Instead, they turned to criticism of the Proclamation’s effects – or the lack of any. The spring elections in 1863 served as a chance for voters to voice either their pleasure or displeasure for the Proclamation. The Compiler stirred local Democrats to oppose the “Black-Republican-Abolition party” and “convince the Abolitionists that the people of old Adams are still for the Constitution as it is and the Union as it was.”[2] Similarly, it criticized earlier Republican claims that volunteers would surge with news of Emancipation, and when they did not Stahle wrote that “it is high time our countrymen should see the hypocrisy of Abolitionism,” claiming that radicals did not have the bravery to fight for the cause themselves.[3] Finally, the Compiler often wrote that the Proclamation had no effect on the African American populations, claiming, “the negroes still remain quietly on the southern plantations…[and] the negroes within our lines show no passionate eagerness to fight.”[4] Returning to highly religious language, the Compiler called abolitionists “prophets of Baal” and pointed out that no holy luck had been granted to the nation; “The proclamation was issued- the bull against the comet has gone forth- and lo! as far as human discernment can penetrate, Heaven has not smiled upon their counsels.”[5] Through these claims of failure, Democrats hoped to convince their townspeople that Lincoln was wrong. Continue reading

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Home Libraries: Tending the Groeling Library

A corner of my workspace

Anyone reading this who doesn’t love books? I thought not! But a book can be a harsh mistress. At some point, they can become overwhelming. The deaths of my parents–bibliophiles both–made it very clear that leaving my books for someone else to deal with is probably not a good idea. So–I have been cleaning and organizing. Covid-19 has provided a perfect opportunity. Continue reading

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Who Tended to the Dying Arthur MacArthur?

Arthur MacArthur while serving as governor of the Philippines.

ECW welcomes guest author Charlie Knight

In his last few moments of life, Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur recounted the Atlanta Campaign in front of dozens of veterans of his former regiment, the 24th Wisconsin Infantry. Just as he began to describe the action at Peachtree Creek fought on July 20, 1864, he was stricken by what in modern terms would be called a hemorrhagic stroke, which left him dead at the podium. And although there was nothing that doctors could do for him, history has perhaps overlooked the physician, one of them at least, who sought to aid the fallen general.

MacArthur had been looking forward to the regimental reunion in Milwaukee in September 1912 for some time. He had been out of the army – really the only career he had ever known, except for a very short experiment as a lawyer – for three years. Although he had risen to the rank of lieutenant general and commanded a division in the Philippine-American War and afterward served as military governor of the islands, it was during the years 1862-1865 that the young officer had truly proven himself. The chance to refight old battles and relive past glory with his former comrades certainly appealed to MacArthur.

Beginning the Civil War as adjutant of the 24th Wisconsin, Arthur distinguished himself in nearly every engagement in which the regiment participated. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions at Missionary Ridge outside Chattanooga in November 1863. He was wounded at Franklin and credited with saving the Union army from defeat there. He finished the war as a colonel, one of the youngest in the entire Union army. Continue reading

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