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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A Cat Man: Mr. Lincoln

abraham-lincoln-catThere are times when research seems repetitive. Battles, generals, troop movements, the effects of one thing upon another, and on and on. It is an endless stream, and once one dips one’s toes in it, either you want to do it again or again, or you just get up and go home.

I love research, but even I have to take a break once in a while. For that, my recreational research concerns . . . cats. I had pretty much exhausted the subject of the draft during the Civil War for one day, and I wandered to the search engine and typed in my subject: Cats & the Civil War. Continue reading

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Question of the Week for April 7, 2014

Following his poor performances at Gettysburg and Bristoe Station, do you believe that Lee should have replaced A.P. Hill as Third Corps commander? If yes, who would you replace Hill with?

Lieutenant General A.P. Hill

Lieutenant General A.P. Hill

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April-May Presentations

4th: Phill Greenwalt will be teaching for the Rappahannock Life Learning Institute, ”From the Rapidan to the James River, the Overland Campaign of 1864 between Lee and Grant.” (VA)

5th: Kristopher White, “The Dead Lay All About….” The Aftermath of Gettysburg, at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA)

8th: Phill Greenwalt, “Overland Campaign from the Wilderness to Spotsylvania with George Steuart.” Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table. (MD)

11th: Phill Greenwalt will be teaching for the Rappahannock Life Learning Institute, ”From the Rapidan to the James River, the Overland Campaign of 1864 between Lee and Grant.” (VA)

15th: Kristopher White, “A Trip to Hell: The Second Battle of Fredericksburg,” at the Charlottesville Civil War Roundtable (VA)

24th: Chris Mackowski, “The Battle of the Bloody Angle,” at the Buffalo Civil War Roundtable (NY)

25th: Steward Henderson, “Fighting for Their Freedom: The United States Colored Troops,” at Lake of the Woods Civil War Study Group (VA)

26th: Phill Greenwalt will be leading a bus tour for the Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Battlefields. (VA)

3rd: Phillip Greenwalt and Chris Mackowski, “The Battle of the Wilderness,” Lake of the Woods Civil War Study Group, Lake of the Woods (VA)

4th: Chris Mackowski, book signing at the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center (VA)

6th: Kristopher White, “The Beginning of the End: The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864,” at the Ohio County Library in Wheeling, West Virginia

13th: Kristopher White, “Hell’s Half Acre: The Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania Court House,” at the First Defenders Civil War Roundtable (PA)

16th: Steward Henderson, “Fighting for Their Freedom: The United States Colored Troops,” at the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars and Tours (VA)

18th: Chris Mackowski, “The Last Days of Stonewall Jackson,” The Manassas Museum (VA)

21st: Phill Greenwalt “Lost from the Top: Confederate Leadership” at the General William T. Sherman Civil War Round Table in Lancaster, Ohio.

Posted in Books & Authors, Upcoming Events | 1 Comment

Question of the Week for March 31, 2014

Do you believe that General Grant should have attached himself to the Army of the Potomac, in 1864, or would his skill-set have been better suited elsewhere?

General Ulysses S. Grant

General Ulysses S. Grant


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Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image, by Joshua Zeitz

Lincoln's Boys coverI was on the list at Amazon for immediate delivery of Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image when publication occurred, and to say I was excited is an understatement. John Hay and John George Nicolay are two of my very favorites in all of history, and are part of almost everything I write, if humanly possible. I was very excited to learn this book was in the works.

To understand Lincoln, one must see his through the eyes of his two young secretaries as well as through the lenses of Lincoln historians. After all, Hay and Nicolay were “Lincoln Men” before there even was a Lincoln. Each secretary gets his due in the beginning of the book, as personal histories are presented first. Then, Hay, Nicolay, and Abraham Lincoln meet. I cannot resist saying that “the rest is history.” They believed in Lincoln, and were instrumental participants in the fascinating election of 1860.

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General Turned Chemist

Another installment of the series “Tales from the Tombstone” 

Born in Fredericksburg, Virginia on September 8, 1829, Seth Maxwell Barton had one of the unique post-Civil War careers out of any of the former Confederate general officers. He became a noted and renowned chemist.

Which was probably reminiscent of his Confederate service, as it was a mix of different commands, like elements, that never quite worked out. Okay, maybe the comparison of chemist to general was a bit of a stretch, but it was worth a shot?

Continue reading

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