Mourning a Friend

Peter Vredenburgh, Jr. died almost 130 years before I was born. And yet, as I read his letters from the Civil War, I found myself identifying with Vredenburgh and thinking of him as a close companion. Which perhaps explains why, when I recently read how he came to be killed, I felt like I had lost a friend.

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Stonewall’s Horses

William D. Washington's imaginative artwork of Jackson during the Valley Campaign illustrates the hero's place Jackson held in Winchester and includes a stylized image of Little Sorrel.

William D. Washington’s imaginative artwork of Jackson during the Valley Campaign includes a stylized image of Little Sorrel.

Early in 1861, John Harman and Thomas J. Jackson inspected a small herd of horses which had been discovered in a captured railroad boxcar. Jackson turned the horses over to the Confederate government and purchased two for his military use.[i] In the following days, Jackson discovered the large horse had an uncomfortable gait and was spooky – not traits ideal for the man who would shortly receive the sobriquet “Stonewall.” The small gelding – originally purchased as a saddle horse for Mrs. Jackson – had a steady temperament and easy pace…and was never sent to Mrs. Jackson. Instead, “Fancy” (as the horse was first called) became General Jackson favorite war horse and eventually gained the simpler name “Little Sorrel.” Continue reading

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Book Review: Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln & the Union’s War Governors by Stephen D. Engle


gathering-cwtThe study of the American Civil War is changing. Of course, there will always be battle studies and biographies of generals, but there is a pivot away from this strictly military point of view. Scholars are examining the war in a much more global context, and this includes the politics of the era. Helping to anchor this pivot point is Dr. Stephen Engle’s brilliant offering Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln & the Union’s War Governors.

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Posted in Book Review, Books & Authors, Civilian, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Federal, Lincoln, Personalities, Politics, Slavery | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Tracking Down the Wounding of Joe Johnston


Joseph Johnston

We are pleased to welcome back guest author Doug Crenshaw, who shares with us today a bit of original research.

It’s something that has puzzled me for years. The wounding of Joe Johnston was an event that changed the course of the Civil War, yet nowhere could I find the exact location where it occurred. I had attempted half-heartedly over the years to locate it, but to no avail. That changed the day Chris Mackowski asked me to see if I could find the spot. A trip to the fabulous yet under-appreciated library of the Richmond National Battlefield Park seems to have provided the answer. Continue reading

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“Unparalleled Insult and Wrong to the State”: Unionism and the Camp Jackson Affair of May 1861 (Part 2)

St. Louis Arsenal. Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society.

St. Louis Arsenal. Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society.

Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome guest author Kristen M. Trout

Just south of St. Louis stood the St. Louis Federal Arsenal, filled with over 38,000 rifles and muskets that the secessionists (under the name Missouri Volunteer Militia, which was formed from the Minutemen) aimed to capture just as they did before at the Liberty Arsenal on April 20. Newly-appointed commander Nathaniel Lyon and his Home Guards were ordered by Secretary of War Simon Cameron to seize the weapons and ship them to Illinois. An estimated 21,000 rifles were taken across the river on April 26. On May 1, Jackson ordered a regiment of the Missouri State Militia to conduct military exercises at Lindell’s Grove (site of Camp Jackson), just west of the city. Eight days later, a steamship delivered four smoothbore cannon and 500 muskets from the Confederate Government to aid in Jackson’s efforts. Continue reading

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“Unparalleled Insult and Wrong to the State”: Unionism and the Camp Jackson Affair of May 1861 (Part 1)

Sterling Price before the war. Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Sterling Price before the war. Courtesy of the State Historical
Society of Missouri.

Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome guest author Kristen M. Trout

On May 13, 1861, the headline “Fight Between Rioters and the Home Guard – Several Persons Killed” adorned the covers of the nation’s most popular newspapers.[1] St. Louis citizens recalled, “[T]he large, usually lively city had a troubled, depressed appearance. The streets and public places were empty of people.”[2] Just three days prior, the brewing tensions between Unionists and Secessionists in the slave state of Missouri came to a climactic roar. Twenty-eight bodies were scattered across the planked Olive Street. Seventy-five civilians were injured.

No two accounts matched in the confusion of gunshots, stone throwing, and screaming. For Unionists, a civilian radical fired the first shot and taunted the Dutch troops. For Secessionists, the German troops fired the first shots into a crowd of innocent civilians, a result of government overreach. However, for those who considered themselves “conditional Unionists” their views on the matter varied before the massacre, but they all had a strong opinion after. One of these was a rather popular, famous Mexican War hero and politician by the name of Sterling Price, who would quickly abandon Unionism for a new cause of protecting Missouri and fighting for its secession.[3]  Continue reading

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Joe Johnston Backpeddling to the Gulf?

johnston-retreat-cartoonWhile working on an essay for one of Emerging Civil War’s upcoming books with Southern Illinois University Press, I came across several accounts about Gen. Joe Johnston’s constant backwards motion during the spring and early summer of 1864. They were too good not to share: Continue reading

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A Quiet Corner of the War


The hiking trail winds through hills and valleys along the river.

I recently had the chance to spend some time in Montgomery County, Maryland, just east of Washington, DC. I’m usually driving through on my way somewhere, so have never explored the area’s history very much. This particular day I was on my way to a talk and book signing, and make time to get off the highways in search of local history.

I came across Blockhouse Point Conservation Park, a county-run park. While it includes several miles of hiking and horse trails, the park preserves, as the name suggests, the site of a Civil War blockhouse. I eagerly parked, consulted the maps at the trailhead, and headed into the woods.

As I hiked, I reflected on this lesser-known aspect of the war. The park’s brochure describes it well, “Long hours of picket duty and drill. Swampy camp conditions and muddy drinking water. Forays into Virginia chasing Confederate raiders.”

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Question of the Week: 1/16-1/22/17

Question-HeaderWith some states celebrating Lee/Jackson Day this month, we thought it would be a good time to ask the question…

Who’s leadership style do you think was best? Lee or Jackson?

Posted in Holidays, Leadership--Confederate, Question of the Week | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Lee-Jackson Day 2017

lemons-and-wreath-2017As is my custom when visiting Lexington, Virginia, I swung by Stonewall Jackson Cemetery on Saturday to pay my respects to the general. I was in town at the invitation of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to speak at their annual Lee-Jackson Symposium, yet I knew I was coming into a political hornets’ nest, as well.

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