Symposium Spotlight: Maryland Campaign Roundtable Panel

Welcome to another installment of our 2022 Emerging Civil War Symposium Spotlight Series. We are introducing you to each of our outstanding speakers that will be presenting at the Eighth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium August 5 – 7, 2022. Today we are featuring an added bonus for this years symposium!

Our Friday evening roundtable discussion panel has become a popular tradition at the Emerging Civil War Symposium. When we missed the panel in 2021, our attendees let us hear about it! This year, in addition to the Friday panel, we’ll also close out the day on Saturday with a second roundtable panel!

Continue reading

Posted in Symposium | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Intelligencer Takes on Jeff Davis

Jefferson Davis

Editor’s note: Stephen Davis and Bill Hendrick are coming out with their new book, The Atlanta Daily Intelligencer Covers the Civil War (University of Tennessee Press). Here’s a story based on their text.

In late September, President Davis was traveling through Georgia, en route to visit Hood and his army south of Atlanta. On September 23, when he stopped in  Macon, he was asked to give a speech. It was pretty boiler-plate: the people should resolve to crush Sherman, rally to the cause, continue their patriotic sacrifices.

But then came this: “It has been said that I abandoned Georgia to her fate. Shame upon such a falsehood….Miserable man. The man who uttered this is a scoundrel.”

Davis spoke from prepared remarks, and his speech was widely reprinted in Confederate newspapers. The Georgia press in particular buzzed over the President’s “scoundrel” remark.

Since then, historians have, too. Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Confederate, Newspapers, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Most Profitable Ironclad: The Miniature Monitor That Raised Funds and Hope for the Union

To be certain, the medical arm of the United States military was unprepared for the scope of the war that was thrust upon it in 1861, counting only 98 physicians in its ranks at the outbreak of the Civil War. Following the bloodletting at First Bull Run, several relief organizations were assembled to assist with the obvious shortfall in providing for the needs of the sick and wounded Federal soldiers. Chief among these organizations was the United States Sanitary Commission (U.S.S.C.), which established and staffed hospitals and rest homes, and provided soldiers with food, medical supplies, and transportation. Funded chiefly by state tax funds, the U.S.S.C. relied heavily on donations and local support. Additional organizations, such as the United States Christian Commission and local aid societies likewise supported soldiers with medical aid and necessities.

As a means of generating both donations for the U.S.S.C. and enthusiasm for the war effort, cities in 1863 began organizing sanitary fairs. Often involving music, performances, and exhibition halls filled with lavish historical, mechanical, and patriotic displays, cities vied to ‘out raise’ donation totals realized at other fairs throughout the northern states. At least thirty U.S.S.C.-sanctioned sanitary fairs were held in various cities between the winter of 1863 and the summer of 1865. One attraction at the 1864 Pittsburgh Sanitary Fair would go on to generate interest, enthusiasm, and some serious money at fairs across the country. Continue reading

Posted in Civilian, Navies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

General Hancock’s Tourniquet at Gettysburg

General Hancock wounded at Gettysburg and carried off the field (Illustration from “Life of Hancock” published in the 1880’s)

General Stannard stood over him as we laid him upon the ground, and opened his clothing where he indicated by a movement of his hand that he was hurt, a ragged hole, an inch or more in diameter, from which the blood was pouring profusely, was disclosed in the upper part and on the right side of his thigh. He was naturally in some alarm for his life.

“Don’t let me bleed to death,” he said. “Get something around it quick.” Stannard had whipped out his handkerchief, and as I helped to pass it around General Hancock’s leg I saw that the blood, being of dark color and coming in jets, could not be from an artery, and I said, to him, “This is not arterial blood, General; you will not bleed to death.” From my use of the surgical term he took me for a surgeon and replied, with a sigh of relief: “That’s good; thank you for that Doctor.” We tightened the ligature by twisting it with the barrel of a pistol, and soon stopped the flow of blood.[i]

Halt right there in this account of Union General Winfield S. Hancock’s wounding on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg. Handkerchief and pistol barrel to make a tourniquet? Not only is it unique and apparently effective, but how was it possible? I’ve “bandaged” in scenarios at reenactment field hospitals with the 1860’s techniques, and it takes a lot more cloth to go around arms, legs, and torsos than one might think, even if the man is “typical soldier” height and weight. That had to be a pretty large handkerchief to wrap around the upper thigh and have enough to tie to tourniquet.

While I didn’t doubt the core facts of Lieutenant George Benedict’s account, I had questions about the details and decided to do a little research and hands-on testing. Continue reading

Posted in Medical | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Question of the Week: 1/17-1/23/2022

Thinking about memory and legacy this week…

Do you think Civil War leaders would be pleased or disturbed (or some other feeling) with how they have been remembered through the decades?

Posted in Memory, Question of the Week | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Week In Review: January 10-16, 2022

Treason? Blockade Runners? Interviews? Fallen leaders? Check all the boxes! We’ve had some unique topics featured on the blog in the last week and here’s the complete list:

Continue reading

Posted in Week in Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

Reconsidering Humor in Civil War Primary Sources

An unidentified Union soldier

Someone challenged me to read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, and it’s been one of my recent “non-history” books. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t *think* about history while reading.

While several sections caught my eye about predictions of and human reactions to violence, the short section on intuition expressing itself as humor was a thought-provoking reminder for the Civil War era.

“The intuitive signal of the highest order, the one with the greatest urgency, is fear…. The next [descending] level is apprehension, then suspicion, then hesitation, doubt, gut feelings, hunches, and curiosity. There are also nagging feelings, persistent thoughts, physical sensations, wonder, and anxiety…. There is another signal people rarely recognize, and that is humor.”[i] Continue reading

Posted in Common Soldier | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Saving History Saturday: Ken Burns Advocates for Preservation at Manassas Battlefield

Filmmaker Ken Burns has spoken out, opposing a proposed digital data center that would be located next to Manassas National Battlefield Park. In a letter to the supervisors of Prince William County, Burns called the project the “single greatest threat to Manassas National Battlefield in nearly three decades.” He declared: “As a student and chronicler of American history for more than 40 years, I can attest to how fragile our precious heritage is and how susceptible it can be to the ravages of ‘progress.'” Continue reading

Posted in Preservation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

ECW Weekender: Vicksburg National Military Park

An ECW colleague emailed me a note the other day: “I’m reading the Vicksburg/Tullahoma book, and really enjoyed your article about visiting Vicksburg. I’ve never been and I’m more motivated now than ever.”

The article he mentioned was based on this blog series­, which I wrote in 2018 while on a video tour of the Vicksburg campaign with Kris White for the American Battlefield Trust. It was the 155th anniversary of the campaign, and it was my second time in Vicksburg. My only previous visit had been in 2015 on a trip with my daughter and Dan Davis (see here and here). The heat and humidity on that first day left me as depleted as any battlefield experience in my life.

I was pleased to hear of my colleague’s renewed motivation to visit Vicksburg. It’s a fantastic park, every bit as inspiring and intricate as Gettysburg, which seems to be the benchmark most Civil War buffs have as a point of comparison. I particularly love Grant’s overland campaign through Mississippi before he even gets to Vicksburg, which opens up all sorts of additional realms of exploration. There are battlefields and associated sites to see at Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, Raymond, Jackson, and Champion Hill, with a historic driving trail connecting them all. There are also sites on the west bank of the Mississippi. Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, ECW Weekender, Western Theater, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Limited Tickets Remaining for April 9 Pittsburgh Symposium!

When one ECW symposium just isn’t enough, we have you covered…but only if you act quickly! Only 30 seats remain available for the upcoming Civil War Symposium at The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall and the Captain Thomas Espy Post in Carnegie, Pennsylvania on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

The symposium will feature five historians from Emerging Civil War, including Kristopher D. White, Chris Mackowski, Paige Gibbons Backus, Dan Welch, and Drew Gruber. Highlighting several key themes of the second year of the Civil War, the symposium will examine how the events of 1862 impacted a soldier’s experience, including the battles that scarred them, the medicine that healed them, and the words that freed them.

Presentations Include:

Drew A. Gruber – “The Civil War on the Virginia Peninsula in 1862” 

Dan Welch – “Abraham Lincoln & The Emancipation Proclamation

Paige Gibbons Backus – “Dr. Jonathan Letterman’s Plan that Changed Military Medicine”

Chris Mackowski – “Simply Murder: The Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia”

Kristopher D. White – “The Battle of Gaines’ Mill, Virginia”

Captain Thomas Espy Post at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Carnegie, PA

In addition to the speakers, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the national treasure Captain Thomas Espy Post, considered the most intact surviving Grand Army of the Republic Post, as well as the Lincoln Gallery, an impressive display of 100 prints of Abraham Lincoln captured between 1847 – 1865. There will also be an expansive Civil War book sale and raffles throughout the day.

A limited number of tickets are available at the regular price of $60.00, which includes the five lectures and a boxed lunch. Tickets may be purchased at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall

Posted in Speakers Bureau, Upcoming Events | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments