Question of the Week for April 21, 2014

Winchester, Virginia is filled with Civil War history. What is your favorite Civil War site in or around the Winchester area?

Winchester at war.

Winchester at war.

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Evening With an Expert at the Fredericksburg Area Museum

Layout 1Be sure to catch author/historian Donald Pfanz at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center, April 24, at 7 PM. Don will be speaking about,and signing copies of the new Emerging Civil War Series book  No Turning Back: A Guide to the 1864 Overland Campaign, From Wilderness to Cold Harbor, May 4-June 13, 1864.

Don is one of the three co-authors of the book and is one of the leading experts on the battles of Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. Don is also the author of The Letters of Richard S. Ewell: Stonewall’s Successor and Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier’s Life.

The Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center is a fantastic venue for this book launch event. Located on Princess Anne Street, in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia, the museum state of the art museum explores the history of Fredericksburg from the Colonial Period to present. The museum & cultural center is also a sponsor of our upcoming Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge.

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ECW Weekender: The Civil War Horse Memorial

HorseMemorialThe old gray mare—she ain’t what she used to be. Or so the old song goes.

And such was the case for the millions of equestrians conscripted into service, North and South, during the Civil War. One-point-five million of them were killed or wounded or died of disease during the war. Continue reading

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The Myth of the “Cracker Line”: Part One

We are excited to welcome guest author Frank Varney. Frank is the author of General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War. Part one in a series.

Major General William S. Rosecrans

Major General William S. Rosecrans

If you look in pretty much any history of the Civil War that discusses the siege of Chattanooga that followed the Union defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga, you will find some assertion that General William S. Rosecrans, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, went into a state of depression which essentially destroyed his capacity for command. From an intelligent, aggressive commander he supposedly turned into a dazed wreck – his confidence shattered, his spirit broken, unable to take even the most basic steps to keep his army supplied and in fighting trim. The accepted history goes on to say that it required the energy of Ulysses S. Grant, who was appointed to overall command of Union forces in the region, to save Rosecrans’ army. Grant relieved Rosecrans, replaced him with George H. Thomas, and promptly set about devising a remarkably clear plan for getting the supplies flowing. The energy and resourcefulness of Grant resulted in the opening of the “Cracker Line” in an incredibly short time, which saved the Army of the Cumberland. This is often, in fact, considered one of his more noteworthy accomplishments.

That is not, however, the case. A closer examination of the primary sources reveals that in fact there is much more to the story than that. The question that must therefore be asked is a simple one – was Army of the Cumberland starving and did Grant rescue it from oblivion? Let’s see what some of the leading historians have to say about it and where they got their information. Continue reading

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Atop Munshower’s Knoll

2013-07-06 11.48.47The 7th Massachusetts and Sedgwick Monument at Gettysburg.

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The Absolution at Gettysburg

Today we welcome guest author Peter M Preble. Father Preble is a 2004 graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology where he concentrated on Church History. Since his graduation he has continued his research concentrating on the role of the Army Chaplain during the time of the Civil War. He has taught classes at Nichols College in Dudley Massachusetts and Quincy College in Quincy Massachusetts. He presently serves as Command Chaplain with the Massachusetts Organized Militia.

Nearly One Hundred and Fifty One years ago, two great armies were marching toward the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. The inhabitants of this small town numbered only 2,400 souls and they were going to be in the middle of the one of the greatest battles of the United States Civil War.

From July 1st until July 3rd the Army of Northern Virginia with almost 75,000 men, commanded by General Robert E. Lee and the Army of the Potomac with almost 92,000 men, Commanded by Major General George G Meade, battled it out on this field that left more than 7,800 dead, 33,000 wounded, and more than 11,000 captured or missing. The ground literally was red with the blood of both blue and gray.

Father William Corby

Father William Corby

Although this battle has gone down in history as one of, if not, the bloodiest battles in American history, there is one little known event that took place on July 2nd in the middle of the battle.

Father William Corby, Chaplain of the 88th New York Infantry Regiment of the Irish Brigade, had been with his men since the start of the war. He was living at Notre Dame University when the war began and became chaplain of the Regiment serving until the end of war. What was remarkable about this is that the average service of a Chaplain was 18 months as most of them were in their 50’s and just could not adjust to the life in the field and so most resigned their commission and returned home. Continue reading

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Question of the Week for April 14, 2014

At the outset of the spring 1864 campaigns, do you believe that the Confederacy still had a fighting chance to win the war, or do you believe victory was a forlorn hope?

Confederate Dead at the Alsop House, May 1864.

Confederate Dead at the Alsop House, May 1864.

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Congratulations to Chris & Jenny!

All of us at Emerging Civil War send our well wishes and heartfelt congratulations to Chris Mackowski and Jenny Hawkins-Mackowski!!!!!! Chris and Jenny were married Friday on the Spotsylvania Battlefield, at Stevenson Ridge.

2014-04-11 18.07.17

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Centennial Wars

Today we are happy to welcome guest author Philip Leigh. Philip received his BS in Electrical Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology, and received his MBA from Northwestern University. He has written 22 articles for the New York Times Disunion. In 2013 Philip authored his first Civil War book Co. Aytch: Annotated and Illustrated; which is an illustrated and annotated version of the memoirs of Confederate Private Sam Watkins. Next month Westholme Publishing will release his newest work titled Trading With the Enemy, which is about intersectional commerce between the North and South during the War. Philip also authored self-published an illustrated and annotated version of Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Fremantle’s Civil War diary titled Three Months in the Southern States.

Fifty years ago the master narrative of the Civil War Centennial failed to synchronize with the momentous 1960s Civil Rights movement. It minimized the roles of slavery and race. Instead the War was characterized as a unifying ordeal in which both sides fought heroically for their individual sense of “right” eventually becoming reconciled through mutual sacrifice. Slavery was considered only one of several causes of the War.

Lady LibertyAfterwards most historians began rejecting the Centennial interpretation. Yale professor David Blight explains that historians who came-of-age during the 1920s economic boom, ensuing crash, and Great Depression were the ones chiefly responsible for shaping the twentieth century understanding of the War’s causes – until the 1960s. Such writers “tended to see the world through the frame of the Great Depression” and interpreted sectional differences as more important than differing ideologies on slavery.

His signature example was Charles Beard who “saw the South and North as essentially two economies. . . . [U]ltimately the Civil War, in Beard’s view, wasn’t really about any particular ideology . . . it was two economic systems living together in . . . the same nation, and coming into conflict with one another in insolvable ways; forces meeting at a crossroads and they had to clash. Beard is laden with inevitability, as any great economic determinist usually is.” Continue reading

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The Order for Victory

150 years ago today, General Grant instructed the Army of the Potomac’s General Meade that “Lee’s Army is to be your objective point . . . where ever he goes, there you will go also.” This was the first time the Army of the Potomac would embark on a major campaign without the cry of “On to Richmond!”

One year later to the day, Lee surrendered at Appomattox – a direct result of Grant’s strategy embodied in this order.


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