The Heroics of Capt. John Woodward, 1st Vermont Cavalry

The Civil War constantly moved past the Aldie Mill. On March 2, 1863, it became the site of the famous Aldie Races (courtesy of Richard T. Gillespie)

On March 2, 1863, fifty-nine troopers of the 1st Vermont Cavalry trotted into Aldie and stopped at the village’s prominent mill to rest. Suddenly and unexpectedly, two Vermont scouts on the northwest end of town stumbled into an advancing force of Confederate cavalry belonging to John S. Mosby’s command. “A charge was immediately ordered,” Mosby recalled. Mosby’s tactics caught the Vermonters—who dismounted their horses and wandered around the Aldie Mill and the village—completely by surprise. The Federal cavalrymen panicked and ran in several different directions. Few fought back against Mosby’s charge. Continue reading

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A Conversation with Emma Murphy (part two)


Emma Murphy at Gettysburg

Emma Murphy during her days at Gettysburg

(part two of five)

As we continue our Women’s History Month commemoration, we’re talking his week with Emma Murphy, a park guide at Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. Prior to landing her full-time permanent position there, she’d been working most recently as a seasonal ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park. Yesterday, she explained a bit about the complexities of getting a full-time permanent position with the Park Service.


Chris Mackowski: You mentioned to me the other day that there were a number of other people at Gettysburg, where you’d previously been stationed, that were in the system and waiting for a position to open up, and you had equated the situation to loving your troops enough but then having to send them into combat, because a supervisor ultimately has to make some hard choice about which one of those people to hire if a position does open up. What do you think about all those folks that are like airplanes circling the airport, waiting for their chance to land?  Continue reading

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From the ECW Archives: Queen of the Delphine, Part I

Lilias Nichols

A warship at sea was an exclusively male domain and sailors were a superstitious lot. Having a woman on board was unlucky as well as a confounded nuisance.

In December 1864, one New England lady found herself a prisoner of war in the Indian Ocean—about as far from familiar battlefields as it is possible to be.

Her captors, Southern gentlemen all, were befuddled by an enemy female in their midst. She, like so many courageous, strong-willed women on both sides in the Civil War, fought back.  This is their story.

Continue reading

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Artillery Sketches of Alfred Waud

Talk about being in the right place at the right time . . . our own Meg Groeling wrote a series of posts for ECW several years ago called “Drawing the War.” It featured the newspaper artists who were embedded with the various Civil War armies and sent sketches to the large newspapers of the day. The piece concerning Alfred Waud has gotten a lot of traffic.

However, the piece, with some rewriting, got a new life from The Artilleryman magazine. The spread is simply beautiful, with copious illustrations of Waud’s work pertaining to artillery. Editor Jack Melton headed up this effort. Check it out!


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A Conversation with Emma Murphy (part one)


Emma Murphy 01(part one of five)

As we continue our series of interviews for Women’s History Month, we spend time this week with Emma Murphy, a park guide at Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greenville, Tennessee. Emma has a bachelor’s degree in history/Civil War studies from Gettysburg College, and a master’s degree in public history from the University of West Georgia. Before landing her full-time gig at Andrew Johnson, she worked as a seasonal historian/ranger at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Richmond National Battlefield, and Gettysburg National Military Park.

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Chris Mackowski: How did you end up at Andrew Johnson?  Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 3/19-3/25/18

March 17, 2018, was the 155th Anniversary of the Battle of Kelly’s Ford, which marks a turning point in the Union cavalry’s battlefield experiences.

Who is your favorite Union cavalry officer? (Doesn’t have to be a general.)

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ECW Week in Review Mar. 11-18

March presses on here at ECW. We continued our observance of Women’s History Month and featured our last Symposium Speaker (tickets are still available here). You may click on the links below to read each post.

Continue reading

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Irish-Americans Remembered On The Battlefields

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and it only seems right to nod the kepis respectfully to the Irish-Americans who fought on both sides during the American Civil War.

From the Emerging Civil War editors’ photo collections, here are a couple photos of the Union Army of the Potomac’s Irish Brigade memorials at Antietam and Gettysburg. Let us know if you have a favorite Irish-American memorial on a battlefield, and we’ll try to get a shot the next time we’re in the fields.

Best of luck to you and yours this fine day, and don’t drink too much whiskey before the horse race! (If you’re not familiar with the 1863 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the Army of the Potomac, you can find the details here on Irish-American Civil War.) Continue reading

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A View of Kelly’s Ford

Kelly’s Ford

155 years ago today, Brig. Gen. William Woods Averell’s Union cavalry division clashed with Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee’s Confederate cavalry brigade east of Culpeper Court House. The day long struggle derived its name from a nearby crossing on the Rappahannock River, Kelly’s Ford. That St. Patrick’s Day, the waters which flowed from the Blue Ridge to the Chesapeake served as a point of embarkation from the past and a vision of the future.

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Preservation Victory at Goose Creek Bridge!

For those of you familiar with the Gettysburg Campaign, Little Round Top was not the first time the famous 20th Maine or Vincent’s Brigade saw combat during the events leading up to the battle. The Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks recently announced a preservation victory at Goose Creek Bridge where these units, along with JEB Stuart’s cavalry squared off almost 155 years ago. Find out more about this success by reading below. Continue reading

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