Question of the Week: 2/24-3/1/2020

Sarah Bierle here sharing a question that’s been on her mind:

What’s your criterion for giving a historic person “hero status”? Give some Civil War examples to support your answers, please?

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Week In Review: February 17-23, 2020

From Presidents Day to book reviews, a Civil War surgeon’s letter, Eastman Johnson’s art, a weekender trip in Florida, and more…we’ve got the week in review just for you. Continue reading

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Saving History Saturday: American Battlefield Trust Preserves 326 Acres

Recently, American Battlefield Trust announced the preservation of 326 acres of battlefields at Second Manassas, North Anna, and New Market Heights. Here’s the latest adapted from the news release on their website: Continue reading

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ECW Weekender – Fort Clinch

I’ve been coming to Ameila Island and Fernadina Beach, Florida on and off for near 20 years. I always try to make Fort Clinch, at the mouth of the Amelia River, a stop.

Fort Clinch facing Cumberland Sound/Amelia River

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Book Review: “Lincoln Takes Command: The Campaign to Seize Norfolk and the Destruction of the CSS Virginia.”

When the CSS Virginia steamed into Hampton Roads on March 8, 1862 and tore through the Federal ships there, naval warfare changed forever. An ironclad, the Virginia seemed impenetrable as the Federal vessels poured broadside after broadside at her. Though further damage was stymied by the arrival of the U.S. Navy’s own ironclad, the Monitor, it became rapidly apparent to Federal officials that the Virginia had the potential to cause unmitigated havoc.

If Union forces were going to have a continued presence around Fort Monroe, and use the Peninsula as an avenue to attack Richmond, they had to destroy the rebel ironclad, and take its base of operations, Norfolk. The unique campaign to do exactly that, which unfolded in the early weeks of May 1862, is told in Steve Norder’s new book, Lincoln Takes Command: The Campaign to Seize Norfolk and the Destruction of the CSS Virginia.

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Another Look at Survival

Museum display of Civil War surgical instruments. (Photograph by S.K. Bierle)

I’m getting ready to give a presentation to a round table this evening and have been reviewing my notes and what I’ll be sharing about Civil War medical practices and how those norms actually worked (or didn’t) during a campaign or battle. The talk is themed around the word “survive” or “survival.” It’s clear to draw the comparison and lessons from accounts of sick or wounded soldiers in a literal struggle to survive, but there’s another aspect that I address.

Any war or combat situation produces mental stress. Different people react and handle that stress and triggered memories in different ways. I’ve started a file of research notes specifically on how Civil War surgeons were affected by their experiences and how they coped with the carnage and death they routinely encountered and dealt with.

Dr. Alexander Neil joined the 12th West Virginia Infantry (Union) during the summer of 1863. He accompanied the regiment during the Shenandoah Campaigns of 1864, putting his degree from Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery to work and learn much more through experience in field hospitals. Continue reading

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Reflections on Eastman Johnson’s A Ride for Liberty

Eastman Johnson is one of my favorite American artists, and many agree that one of his best works is A Ride For Liberty. Let’s take a closer look at what inspired and was reflected in the artwork…

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Symposium Spotlight: A.P. Hill

In this week’s Emerging Civil War Symposium Spotlight we welcome Edward Alexander’s look at fallen leader, A.P. Hill.

During the chaotic aftermath of the Sixth Corps breakthrough attack outside Petersburg, Virginia, on April 2, 1865, Corporal John Mauk fired at a pair of mounted riders, instantly killing Lieutenant General A.P. Hill.

Ambrose Powell Hill did not perform as well as a corps commander as he had in charge of a brigade or division, and the general spent much of the Petersburg campaign outside of the limelight. He returned from medical leave just a day before his death and inherited a situation where his men held responsibility for guarding far too long of a stretch of line than their numbers would allow. The decisive attack that ended the 9.5-month long campaign pierced his lines, and, not knowing the extent, Hill rode to meet with division commander Henry Heth. Continue reading

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Charleston’s Surrender

On February 18, 1865, Charleston, South Carolina surrendered. It had been just two months shy of four years since the war officially began with the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston’s harbor and the city had experience war, losses, and destruction first hand.

Union General William T. Sherman had described the harbor city as already wrecked by war, and it was not a major objective on his campaign list. In his memoirs, he reported the news of the capture briefly:  Charleston was, in fact, evacuated by General Hardee on the 18th of February, and was taken possession of by a brigade of General Fosters troops, commanded by General Schimmelpfennig, the same day. 

The event had a much greater significance on the Confederate mind, especially since South Carolina had been the starting place of the war—a fact that the newly arrived Union troops recognized. Continue reading

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Happy Presidents Day 2020 from Emerging Civil War

Traditionally celebrated with acknowledgements to Washington and Lincoln, we’ve prepared a photo and an account from the Civil War to mark the holiday… Continue reading

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