On The Eve Of War: Los Angeles, California

1862 Pony Express Stamp

On April 24, 1861, a Pony Express Rider carried the news into San Francisco, California: Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina had been fired upon. The account was not unexpected and released a flurry of activity along the coast and through the inland communities of the Golden State.

Los Angeles, a growing port in the southern part of the state, faced a particular crisis. The southern portion of the state had significant sympathies for the Confederacy. Talk swirled about dividing California, with the northern half staying loyal to the Union and the southern half joining the Confederate cause. Continue reading

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Introducing “My ECW Story” Series

Since our founding in 2011, the genesis of Emerging Civil War has been identifying and spotlighting the next generation of Civil War historians and the fresh ideas they bring to the historical conversation. To that end, we have always tried to encourage a diversity of perspectives in the scholarship presented on our blog. It has been gratifying to watch so many of our young and young-at-heart historians use ECW as a platform to promote themselves and their work to a wider audience. Continue reading

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Symposium Spotlight: John Pelham

In this week’s Emerging Civil War Symposium Spotlight  Sarah Bierle previews her presentation on fallen leader John Pelham. Continue reading to see what Sarah will be examining during her presentation in August. Continue reading

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On The Eve Of War: Little Round Top & Devil’s Den

“Colonel,” Chamberlain said. “One thing. What’s the name of this place? This hill. Has it got a name?”

It’s a line from Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, and it was later translated into film for the movie, Gettysburg. Of course, most Civil War buffs know that Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were defending Little Round Top on July 2, 1863, at that point in the Gettysburg saga, but it brings up a good reminder that the military men didn’t always know the names of landmarks or positions on their fighting ground. Sometimes, locals and soldiers gravitated toward the same name for places—like “Sunken Road.” Other times, the military gave new names to locations or made infamous a traditional name.

Little Round Top and Devil’s Den, located south of the town of Gettysburg, were already part of local lore and legend before the battle horrors and memory now associated with the locations. So, how were these two places viewed “on the eve of war” and in the years before the armies came?

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The Post-Shiloh Musings of General Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman

There is little doubt that the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862, changed not only the nature of the American Civil War, but also the trajectory of William Tecumseh Sherman’s career.  Going into the battle Sherman was working diligently to throw off the reputation for being insane. After Shiloh, the red-headed commander enjoyed newfound fame and would gain a promotion.

A nice window into Sherman’s post-Shiloh views is found in a letter the Ohioan wrote to his wife about a week after the battle.    Continue reading

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Henry Adams on Rooney Lee

Henry Adams

As the grandson and great-grandson of American presidents, Henry Brooks Adams came from one of the most distinguished of all New England families. Yet, as a student at Harvard University from 1854-8, this scion of the Yankee-est of all Yankee families befriended an unlikely trio of classmates from the South. At the time, Adams didn’t know that one of his close friends, “Rooney” Lee, and his father, Col. Robert E. Lee, were destined for important things in the near future any more than Rooney knew Adams would become one of America’s preeminent men of letters. But in 1907, when he wrote The Education of Henry Adams, Adams had the opportunity to reflect back on his old friendship. The lens of hindsight, though clouded, offered a view of Rooney—and of “Southern manhood”—that’s interesting even now. Continue reading

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On The Eve of War: Florida

Florida Capitol Building, 1845

Euphoria gripped the capital of Tallahassee, Florida on the afternoon of January 10, 1861. Inside the state capital, sixty-nine delegates, in convention for a week, had voted sixty-two to seven in favor of removing their state from the United States of America.

“The cannon opened their fiery mouths in honor of the fifteen slaveholding States and announced that Florida had become an independent republic” one reporter jotted down when the announcement was made.

Inside the convention the delegates were witnesses to inflammatory oratory outlining the reasons for removing Florida from a Union that could not protect their rights and property.

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The Proviso and the Man

ECW welcomes back guest author Katy Berman.

Representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania

Provided: That as an express and fundamental condition to the acquisition of any territory from the Republic of Mexico by the United States, by virtue of any treaty which may be negotiated between them, and to the use of the Executive to the moneys herein appropriated, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted.                                                                             – David Wilmot, August 8, 1846     

Unexpected historical discoveries delight the historically-minded traveler. Two such happy accidents befell me on a recent trip to Towanda, Pennsylvania. To be sure, the north-central town is not a typical destination for a winter get-away, but I was familiar with the region and needed to get out, out, out of the house. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 4/19-4/25/21

April 19 is the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord at the beginning of the American Revolution. Now, the Civil War angle…

Which historical figure from the Revolutionary War era do you think had the most influence and memory by the time of the Civil War? Why and how?

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Week In Review: April 12-18-2021

Continuing with the series On The Eve Of War, exploring Fort Sumter, the release of a new book, and much more on the blog this week…

Monday, April 12:

Question of the Week talked about visiting Charleston, South Carolina.

On The Eve Of War: New Orleans, Louisiana (Sean Michael Chick) Continue reading

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