Symposium Takeaway: Chris Mackowski

Chris Mackowski wraps up our series reflecting on the Second Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge.

Many of the talks at the symposium tied back to words. Chris Kolakowski talked about Lee’s Order No. 9, which served as the foundational document for the Lost Cause—a theme Phill Greenwalt picked up on in his talk and explored further. Sherman’s memoirs . . . John Bell Hood’s death before he could write his own memoirs, and the discovery and recent publication of his “lost letters” . . . literacy and illiteracy among freedmen . . . Dana Shoaf’s work as a magazine editor . . . even Jonathan Letterman’s very name: “letter man.”

So much tied back to words and writing. Continue reading

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Symposium Takeaway: Phill Greenwalt

We still have a few reflections trickling in from folks in the wake of our 2015 Symposium. Phill Greenwalt, who spoke on Jubal Early and the Legacy of the Lost Cause, offers his takeaway:

“It took me a little while to put into words the emotions and highlights of the symposium. Continue reading

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He Had Won for Himself an Honorable Name: Brig. Gen. John Chambliss’ Untimely Death

Today, we are pleased to welcome back author Jimmy Price

John Chambliss

John Chambliss

The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign witnessed many dark days for the Army of Northern Virginia, but one that has received scant attention is August 16, 1864. On that day, Lee’s army lost two brigadier generals. This post will briefly examine the life of Brig. Gen. John R. Chambliss, Jr. and the impact his death had upon events north of the James in 1864.

John R. Chambliss, Jr. was a native of Greensville County, Virginia. He was the son of John R. Chambliss, Sr., a lawyer who would later serve in the First Confederate Congress and would tragically outlive his son by 11 years. The future Confederate general went to West Point and soon became close friends with future Union cavalier David McM. Gregg. He graduated 31st in the Class of 1853, which also included John Bell Hood, Phil Sheridan, and James B. McPherson among others. He resigned after teaching at the cavalry school at Carlisle and was a civilian until he joined the local militia in 1858. When war broke out he was an aide-de-camp to Henry A. Wise and colonel of the 41st Virginia Infantry before transferring to the 13th Virginia Cavalry.

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ERW Weekender: The Brandywine Battlefield: A History & Visiting the Field



Emerging Revolutionary War and Revolutionary War Wednesday is pleased to welcome guest historian and author Michael C. Harris this week. 

The Battle of Brandywine was fought on September 11, 1777.  Visiting the battlefield to commemorate what took place there began just three years later.  On his way to Virginia in 1780, the Marquis de Lafayette made a point of stopping for day at the battlefield where he was wounded and giving a tour to the officers that were travelling with him.  An older Lafayette returned in 1825 during his celebrated 15-month tour of America.

However, it would not be until after the American Civil War during the golden age of preservation that any kind of markers or monuments began to appear around the ten-square-mile landscape.  During the 1877 centennial, artillery pieces were placed to mark the fighting near Sandy Hollow.  Eighteen years later, a monument was dedicated along Birmingham Road supposedly marking the spot where Lafayette was wounded.  Had Lafayette been alive, he would have been able to put out the error in location.

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Separate Roads to Petersburg: The Fractured Federal High Command, April 1865

Routes of Meade (green) and Grant (blue) to their Harmon House meeting

Routes of Meade (green) and Grant (blue) to their Harmon house meeting

Ever have a dispute with someone turn so ugly that you don’t want to even share the same road? From all appearances, that may have been the case on April 2, 1865 with the damaged relationship between Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade. While researching Grant’s experience on that decisive day of the Petersburg Campaign for a park tour, I found the parallel paths that both he and Meade rode up Duncan and Boydton Plank Roads to be curious. And perhaps a good metaphor for the dynamic within the Federal high command.

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Sam Houston and Secession

Today, we are pleased to welcome back guest author Joe Owen

Sam Houston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sam Houston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

One of my heroes in American history is Sam Houston (March 2, 1793 – July 26, 1863). During the storm of “war fever” that was sweeping through the United States, and especially in the South, Sam Houston was trying to be the voice of reason and neutrality. Sam had the accurate vision of what was to come if war was declared between the states.”Whatever is calculated to weaken or impair the strength of [the] Union,” he said, “whether originating at the North or the South,—whether arising from the incendiary violence of abolitionists, or from the coalition of nullifiers, will never meet with my unqualified approval.”

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Question of the Week 8/17 – 8/23

Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter

This week’s Question of the Week comes from ECW’s Chris Kolakowski who asks:

Visiting Charleston a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by the layers of history surrounding its harbor. It has been one of the most important ports on the U.S. East Coast since the 1600s.

Where would you rank Charleston in terms of most historic ports in U.S. history? Among East Coast ports?

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The Dark Hills

Sunset at Gettysburg

Sunset at Gettysburg

The Dark Hills

Dark hills at evening in the west,

Where sunset hovers like a sound

Of golden horns that sang to rest

Old bones of warriors under ground,

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The Blue and Gray

At last weekend’s symposium, several people asked me about my lapel pin, which is a Korean taeguk of blue and gray swirls chasing each other – the classic “yin and yang” shape. (It is pictured below.) I periodically wear the pin when giving Civil War talks.

Students of 20th Century military history will instantly recognize it as the shoulder patch of the 29th Infantry Division. The 29th was created in 1917 out of the National Guard units of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia – all of which were descended from Civil War units. Because of this melding of former enemy units, the division leadership chose this patch as the symbol; the division ever after has been known as “The Blue and Gray Division.” Continue reading

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Civil War Road Trip

Indianapolis CW monument 1907A couple of times a year, I get to indulge my Civil War obsession with a road trip. The first week in August was my most recent example of the genre. This time I headed east, intent on libraries and battlefields. My research focus is now on materials related to the Atlanta Campaign.

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