Many locations throughout Virginia witnessed multiple battles during the four years of civil war. The slope to Marye’s Heights in Fredericksburg that seemed so insurmountable in December of 1862 again felt the tramp of Union attackers the following spring in a decisively successful charge. The Wilderness of Spotsylvania County muddled tactics and confused soldiers during early May of both 1863 and 1864. Union and Confederate armies vied for the Cold Harbor crossroads near Gaines’ Mill at the end of McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign in 1862 and Grant’s Overland Campaign in 1864. Each time the soldiers returned to their previous battlegrounds visual memories of the carnage awaited them. The grueling duration of the Petersburg Campaign guaranteed these grim reminders would be ever present.
First Lieutenant James B. Thomas and the 107th Pennsylvania Infantry desperately clung to the ground they seized along the Weldon Railroad in August 1864. Union presence astride the tracks cut the major supply line feeding the city of Petersburg from North Carolina. A vicious battle from August 18-21 brought heavy casualties to the northern side but they maintained a strategic victory. The marginally successful Confederates had to yield both battlefield around Globe Tavern and Reams Station and retreated to Petersburg’s inner lines. Meanwhile the Union Fifth Corps hastily improved their new permanent location right atop the previous week’s battlefield. “At this place the dead were all buried where they fell,” wrote Thomas. “There are a great many of them scattered about among the camps.”
A recent decision by legislators in Cattaraugus Country, New York, has paved the way for the destruction of the county’s Civil War Memorial and Historical Building.
Men from Cattaraugus County served in a number of regiments during the war, but arguably the best known was the 154th New York Infantry, better known as the Hardtack Regiment. Amos Humiston, the initially unidentified soldier at Gettysburg found with a photo of his three children, was from Cattaraugus County. The 188th New York came from the area, too; William Whitlock recounted their adventures through his letters in Allegany to Appomattox, edited by Valgene Dunham.
St. Bonaventure University, where I teach, is located in Cattaraugus County. So that’s my dog in the hunt. This is local, which makes it personal.
What follows is an open letter to the county legislators: Continue reading
We at the Emerging Civil War are pleased to announce that registration will open for the Second Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium this coming Saturday, November 1. You, our loyal readers, were a big part of making this past year’s symposium a success. We hope to see you again in 2015. Stay tuned to Emerging Civil War this weekend for additional information on how to register.
150 years ago today, one of the rising stars of the Union army died along a lonely stretch of road west of Rome, Georgia. Twenty-nine-year-old Bvt. Maj. Gen. Thomas E.G. Ransom passed away from the effects of dysentery.
It would have shocked anyone who knew him that Ransom would meet his end in such a way instead of on the battlefield. Ransom was wounded in combat four times, twice seriously. Indeed, Gen. Sherman said of him, “Rising Man, one of the best officers in the service; been shot to pieces, but it doesn’t hurt him.” Continue reading
Editor’s Note: ECW is committed to historical preservation. Although Chris Kolakowski reacts to an instance related to a different war, this is something of concern to the general preservation community, so we’re pleased to bring it to our readers’ attention.
The recent news of the desecration of the Force Z shipwrecks, HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse, off Malaysia is horrendous. As a descendent of Royal Navy veterans of both World Wars and someone who has published on Force Z, I am disturbed. These ships are the grave of 840 British sailors, including an admiral. (For more information, see the story here.) The motive for these salvors is profit, in some cases simply putting food on the table – immediate money trumping consideration of the long-term memory.
This is not a problem confined to the Gulf of Thailand. Continue reading