Lew Wallace Secures the B&O– For the First Time (Pt. 2)

Part 1 is available here.

It was a busy June for Lew Wallace. He and his 11th Indiana Zouaves had been posted at Cumberland, Maryland to guard the vital Baltimore & Ohio Railroad bridges across the Potomac River.

Lew Wallace

Their raid against Romney, Virginia had elicited a Confederate response, and now, by late June, 1861, it seemed like the Hoosiers were on their own. Wallace feared the worst– a Confederate attack directly against Cumberland, and made plans to keep his retreat open into Pennsylvania, just ten miles away.

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Lew Wallace Secures the B&O– For the First Time (Pt. 1)

Lew Wallace, the Hoosier lawyer-turned soldier, readied his command for its move. His objective was a vital connection of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad whose trains were badly needed to transport material and manpower. Wallace wrote later, “The need of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad for purposes of supply and communication was imperative.” He continued, “Little did I suspect that its rescue was to fall to me, my first achievement.” Wallace gathered his troops and set off. This story may sound like it takes place in the summer of 1864, with the leadup to the Battle of Monocacy, but in fact, it takes place three years earlier, among the war’s first days.[1]

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Symposium Spotlight: The Schedule

We are pleased to announce our schedule of speakers and events for the 2019 Emerging Civil War Symposium. Please read on to see all of the great presentations we have in store. Continue reading

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“Upon The Banks of the Potomac”: Two Lieutenants & The Gettysburg Campaign, Part 4

Gettysburg Campaign (Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1259123)

Part of a Series

The rearguard is not always the glamorous place to be. Especially during an advance. However, “our” Lieutenants Dooley and Rhodes both found themselves forming part of the rearguard during the Gettysburg Campaign. That meant that their regiments finally crossed the Potomac while the lead units were already ranging into Maryland and Pennsylvania, scaring the civilians. Their journal entries give valuable glimpses into the experiences at the tail end of the Army of the Northern Virginia and Army of the Potomac.

Dooley, in Longstreet’s Corps, Pickett’s Division, 1st Virginia Infantry, crossed the river on this week 156 years ago and then marched on to Chambersburg. Some of his diary was definitely written in “real time”, but some sections from the period may have been added later during the campaign or when he added clarifications much later.

Rhodes, in the VI Corps, Third Division, Second Brigade, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry, started journaling day-by-day again after taking a break in the previous week. He carefully details the towns his regiment passed through.

The lieutenants’ entries are included below, along with a brief outline of other campaign happenings: Continue reading

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Podcast Additional Resources: “The Atlanta Campaign”

It’s all about the Atlanta Campaign this morning… Did you catch Chris and Steve’s discussion about the campaign last week? (Just subscribe or access your NCO Level account via Patreon to hear the details.)

Did you know that Steve Davis wrote the two Atlanta books for the ECW series? We’ve rounded up links for those books and a bunch of blog posts from the ECW archives. Enjoy the history and following the series of fights that spelled Atlanta’s fate in 1864.

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Book Review—Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

ECW welcomes back guest author Nathan Varnold.

Understanding the life of the most famous and most outspoken black abolitionist in American history is no easy task, but David W. Blight has spent most of his career attempting to simplify a complicated subject. His latest publication, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, is a testament to his twenty-plus year career devoted to understanding Frederick Douglass; the man, the words, the historical figure. It does not disappoint. Historians have access to Douglass’s life works – speeches, writings, letters, and his autobiographies – but those same historians struggle to define him. Blight summarized the difficulties he faced in a book talk at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C. Whenever the renowned author thought he had a firm idea of Douglass, a new letter or article would surface and pull Douglass from his grasp. Think of holding an ice cube. You have a firm grip on the cube only to watch it melt and drip through your fingers. This biography is Blight’s attempt to fully and deeply understand Frederick Douglass. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 6/24-6/30/19

During the Atlanta Campaign, Jefferson Davis replaced General Joseph E. Johnston – appointing General John B. Hood to command the Confederate defense.

In your opinion, was Hood the best choice? Or who would you have placed in command?

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Week In Review: June 17-23, 2019

Summer is officially here! And as usually, ECW had a busy week on the blog…

From the Gettysburg Campaign to the Atlanta Campaign to Petersburg to Hawaii and the Lincoln Presidential Library, let us take you on a “history journey” from our week’s “passport” to the past. Continue reading

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A Visit to the Site of the Final Surrender

To reach the site of the last Confederate surrender, I first have to cross a cemetery. Along the back wall, three brick stairs offer access to a gravel pathway that leads off into the woods and the 35-acre Doaksville archaeological site. However, recent rains have flooded across this cemetery, funneling down the back slope and washing away part of the brick wall. In my cowboy boots, with their smooth soles, I have to pick my way careful across the soggy mess. Otherwise, I’ll slip and slide down the bank, too.

I make it to the stairs and then up and over. Along the waiting path, fourteen interpretive panels explain the history of the former trading community–once the largest in all of Indian Territory. Today, nothing remains of Doaksville except for a number of stone wells, all capped, that dot the landscape like checkers that have all been kinged. A few stone foundations hunker next to the path and behind trees. In an old stone jail, the outline of the three jail cells remains clearly visible, even if now completely impotent with no walls or bars.

The 3/4-mile trail makes a topsy-turvy loop the way a go-kart track might twist back-and-forth and go up and down small rises before bringing you back to the start. I’m the only one out here, so there’ll be no racing. Continue reading

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Saving History Saturday: President Lincoln’s Bible Donated to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

This week, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois announced its latest acquisition: one of Lincoln’s Bibles.

At a fundraiser for wounded soldiers in Philadelphia on June 16, 1864, the Ladies of the Citizens Volunteer Hospital of Philadelphia gifted Lincoln an 18-pound Bible. Reflecting its heavy weight, the Bible is over 14 inches long and nearly 12 inches wide. Remarkably, it is only one of six Bibles known to have been owned by the Lincoln family. Until now, 150 years later, historians did not know of its existence.

The official press release photograph of the Lincoln Bible. Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

In 1872, Lincoln’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, gave the Bible to the family’s Springfield neighbor and friend, Reverend Noyes Miner. Inscribed on the back of the Bible is the notation, “Mrs. Abraham Lincoln to N.W. Miner, D.D., Oct. 15, 1872.” The Miner family had kept this Lincoln memento for several generations, until donating it to the museum. Continue reading

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