Building Ohio’s Army

Today we are pleased to welcome guest author Gordy Morgan

As the Federal government began mobilizing for civil war, Ohio was neither sufficiently organized nor adequately equipped to help fight it. But it more than made up for these deficiencies with enthusiasm for the cause. This is made clear by Ohio’s Adjutant General, C.P. Buckingham, in his report for 1861.

Since the earliest days of the Republic, Americans generally viewed a large, established military as a threat to their democratic society. So it’s not surprising that in 1861, the regular army of the United States numbered less than 17,000 soldiers scattered throughout 79 outposts west of the Mississippi River. National security relied on active state militias serving as a vast reserve of volunteers to be called upon when needed.

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Grant Sets Sail

“Grant the Traveler” (courtesy the LOC)

One hundred and thirty-eight years ago today—May 17, 1877—recently retired President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant departed on what would be a two-and-a-half year, round-the-world trip.

“The trip began as a personal adventure,” says historian William McFeely in his Pulitzer-winning biography Grant. “The Grants had had eight years in the White House, and they had come under a crescendo of criticism for the corruption of the administration. Since they had nowhere to go and nothing to do, it was natural for them to take a vacation, one that would get them away from all the hectoring.” Continue reading

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The Capture of Jefferson Davis, Conclusion

Confederate goldOn a personal note, I am interested in Davis’s capture primarily because of the units involved. Not only do we have the 1st Wisconsin and 4th Michigan cavalries, but also longtime western theater personalities like John Croxton and Robert H. G. Minty – all Army of the Cumberland men.

Of course, Davis’s collaring generated its own share of claims, counter-claims, and controversies. I know of (at least) three other cavalry regiments that would, in the postwar era, try to claim at least a share of reflected glory. Captain Frank Mason of the 12th Ohio Cavalry, who was with Stoneman, framed an argument that Stoneman’s raid drove the Davis party south, into the arms of Colonel Pritchard and his Wolverines. Among the more interesting recollections of the Davis capture was Lieutenant Colonel (then Major) Charles L. Greenbo of the 7th Pennsylvania, also of Minty’s Brigade. Greenbo gave a talk in 1911 describing his own experiences with Davis. Like the 4th Michigan, the 7th was assigned to watch crossings over the Ocmulgee; once Davis was in hand the 7th helped escort him back to Macon. Greenbo related a number of details about the capture he gleaned either from the Michiganders or their prisoners, as well as the details of a private conversation he managed with Davis, in which he reassured the Mississippian that he was not being taken back to Macon merely to be “strung up.” Continue reading

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Interpretation vs Stewardship: A Conundrum at the Jackson Shrine

Roses left at the ShrineDeath Day at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine—May 10—always brings out some colorful characters, which is one of the reasons I enjoy working there so much on the anniversary of Jackson’s death. This year it was no different. A fellow showed up with a Deep South accent and declared, “The blacks are ruining all this Civil War stuff for me, trying to make it all about civil rights.”

On the spot, I found myself caught between the inherently contradictory charges that we, as interpreters, are faced with at sites like the Jackson Shrine. Continue reading

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Preservation of the Franklin Battlefield

From ECW Correspondent Jason Klaiber

A view of the Franklin battlefield. From Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

A view of the Franklin battlefield. From Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

Over the last ten years, the Civil War Trust has worked tirelessly to reclaim the once-lost Franklin battlefield in central Tennessee, where Confederates attacked Union forces on November 30, 1864. The attack ignited horrific, close-quarters combat that lasted five hours. According to Southern author Sam Watkins, this battle served as “the finishing stroke” of the Confederacy. After the fighting, the ground was littered with dead soldiers, the majority of whom belonged to the determined-yet-unsuccessful Confederate army—yet “Bloody Franklin,” as the soldiers later called it, was considered a Confederate victory.

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What ESPN Classic Teaches Us About Civil War History

Hindsight is always 20/20. We look back at historic events possessing information not available to the participants. In hindsight, things that were important at the time have faded while others assume a larger importance.

I suggest we need to try and read history forward – focus on what people knew at the time and not look back at it from our modern perspectives. That brings me to my title, for we have an excellent model on TV for how to do that. Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Books & Authors, Campaigns, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Politics, Ties to the War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Symposium Preview: Dan Davis and the Legacy of Sherman

by ECW Correspondent Liam McGurl

Dan speaking on the Battle of Bentonville, part of Sherman's Carolinas Campaign

Dan speaking on the Battle of Bentonville, part of Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign

Daniel T. Davis, author of Calamity in Carolina, is ready to bring a fresh perspective to a controversial commander for the 2015 Emerging Civil War symposium.

Davis, the chief historian for Emerging Civil War, has co-authored four books in the Emerging Civil War series.

According to Davis, his interest in history sprang from his childhood memories with his father.  Growing up in Fredericksburg, the two enjoyed weekends visiting local historic sites. “That’s really how my Civil War interest began—it was just those weekend trips around the area with my father,” Davis said.

While Davis may have recognized his interest in history early on, it is not likely that he could have imagined the directions in which this interest would take him. Continue reading

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The Curmudgeon, The Eccentric, and the “Norse God”: How Three Men Impacted the Battle of Gettysburg: Part Eight

Brig. Gen. George Doles

Brig. Gen. George Doles

Part eight in a series.

Sweeping the 11th Corps

For the last few hours George Doles four Georgia regiments had done little more than skirmish with the men of the 11th Corps. Doles and his 1,323 men had been tasked by Rodes with protecting the Confederate left flank until Early’s men arrived. Having been held out of the action on Oak Hill/Ridge, Doles men were relatively fresh and looking for a fight.

As Jones artillery played on the Federal position, Gordon moved to action. Doles moved southeast, striking the western side of Blocher’s Knoll. Gordon’s men crossed Rock Creek and hit the knoll’s northern and eastern fronts. As Doles moved to action his horse bolted toward the enemy, with the general holding on for dear life. As the horse neared the enemy Doles dove off the stead, narrowly avoiding capture. While two of Rodes’ brigade commanders refused to lead from the front, poor Doles was nearly captured due to a spooked horse. Continue reading

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Why Study the American Civil War?

Recently, ECW Editor Chris Mackowski was chatting with Gettysburg College senior Bobby Novak, who’s getting ready to graduate later this month with an eye on grad school—“initially for my Masters but I want to go on and get my Ph.D.” Novak told him.

“Why study the war?” Chris asked. “What do you think it all means to the average Joe/Sally? Why do you want to wade into all that?”

These are important questions to ask anyone working in the field of Civil War history, but they’re especially important questions for a fresh young historian who’s getting ready to take the plunge.

Novak’s answers impressed us—enough so that we wanted to share them with you.

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Posted in Antebellum South, Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Civil War Events, Common Soldier, Personalities, Politics, Reconstruction, Ties to the War | 8 Comments

Inspired By the Americans


On December 16, 1773, in Boston, Massachusetts harbor, American colonists belonging to the Sons of Liberty stole aboard trade vessels anchored in the water. In protest to recently passed British legislation, the Native American dressed Sons of Liberty dumped 342 chests of tea into the water.

The Boston Tea Party became a prominent and well-known defiant act by the Americans on the road to the American Revolution.

Unbeknownst to the Adams, Warrens, and Hancock’s of the American Revolution, this particular form of protest–attacking the purse strings of the governing power–would resonate 75 years later, 3,284 miles, and one continent away. Continue reading

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